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Archive for May 26th, 2014

My Dad

Growing up, my Dad, a paratrooper during World War II, never talked about the war. At the time, I did know that he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. It wasn’t until one of his granddaughters was working a University of Texas oral history project of Latinos who fought during WWII did he begin to open up and discuss his war experiences. This was in the late 1990s – 50 years after the war.

I sat in on one of his interviews and it was quite moving to see him get emotional as he discussed the war. He was a heavy machine gunner and was with the 460th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion and saw combat in Italy, France, Belgium, and Germany. He made one combat jump. After the war ended in Europe he volunteered to go the Pacific Theatre. Japan surrendered before my Dad got there. He served from 1943 – 1945.

About that time that he started talking about his war experiences I gave him the “Saving Private Ryan” DVD, arguably one of the best war movies ever. I asked him later what he thought of the movie. He responded that there weren’t any Latinos in the movie. Years later the lack of the mention of Latino contributions during WWII was the criticism PBS would get when they aired their Ken Burns documentary series on the war.

My Dad is 90 years of age now. He’s now very open about his war experiences. When you ask him about the Battle of the Bulge he will say it was cold. Some of his stories have a bit of humor in them, like the ones involving his first practice jumps. The thing that gets me is his recall of the names of some of his fellow paratroopers, where they were from, and if they made it back – wow.

Today is Memorial Day. Yesterday the President visited the troops in Afghanistan. Some folks are complaining here locally because kids are in some schools to make-up “bad weather days”. Some teams in the MLB will wear camo gear today. Most government workers get the day off. Most retail store workers don’t.

Next week the President will go to France to observe the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Today I will call my Dad to see how he’s doing. Please take the time to observe this day.

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