Today’s post is a guest article from my nephew, Richard of Redding. He is the son of my brother Rich; I was especially touched by this Veteran’s Day remembrance, so thought I would share it with you.
Although I think of Dad multiple times each day, on Memorial Day and Veterans day I always think of him and his brothers who all served their country honorably and without complaint of heel spurs. Dad always gave me a favorable view of military service, and often stated that his three years in the Army were far more valuable than his four years of college.
I listened to his wise advice and my two years were both formative and fortuitous. Of the 28 in my Medic Advanced Individual Training class at Ft. Sam Houston, 26 were sent to Vietnam where medics had the second highest fatality rate, second only to radio operators.
The Army sent my best friend to Redstone Arsenal, AL, and me to Ft. Carson, CO where I worked as an operating room technician, learned to ski, read a lot of books, bought a dirt bike and rode all through the Rockies, and had my own room, stereo equipment, lots of good friends, and regular working hours. Life was great but could have been so very different.
About four months before my discharge date, the CO (Commanding Officer) called me in asking if I would consider a promotion from Spec. 4 to Spec. 5. I did not wish to take on any additional responsibility and planned to decline, but he then mentioned that as a Spec. 5, the Army would ship ALL of my things home. Plus, making Spec. 5 in 20 months looks good on one’s resume, so being the pragmatic sort and weighing the options, I agreed.
Four months later I purchased a $150.00 Greyhound Ameripass good for two months of unlimited travel in the US and Canada on Greyhound or Trailways, and was off to see North America—>20,000 miles in 60 days and that is when I first saw Redding, CA, though I never thought of being lucky enough to live here.
I credit Dad for that as well since he was always possessed of that infectious enthusiasm that truly caused one to believe that the sky was the limit of what one could experience. He persuaded me to buy my first motorcycle, hitchhike to Florida, ride former President Eisenhower’s horse bareback, and go with him on the Cyclone at Coney Island—the world’s biggest roller coaster in 1956—and a decision I quickly regretted even before we reached the apex of the first “hill.”
Dad was always just a Big Kid, even at 91, and that is what made him so special and so endearing to his students and to his own children. Always curious, always committed, always eager to share something he’d just learned—and he was ALWAYS learning. Once Bob set him up with a computer and he got over being intimidated, there was no looking back.
As you can tell, Dad had a profound impact on the lives of Bob, Linda, and me, and his voice and persona appear often as we recall so many fine times with our beloved Patriarch. Though we surely miss him (and of course Mom as well, which would require another lengthy E-pistle) there is always a nice warm glow in recollecting all the good times and experiences of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, and we are grateful for having him with us for so many years. He loved being here, and we loved having him. – RICHARD of REDDING