A Tribute to a Veteran – My Dad

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With today being Veteran’s Day it seemed like a good time to write a tribute to a very special veteran – my Dad.  If you’ve read or heard my story before, you know that my Father and I have not always been close. However, in my recovery from addiction my Dad & I have been able to make amends. Today we have a healthy father/daughter relationship that I cherish. This article is a tribute to my Dad.

A Tribute to a Veteran

Now you know where I get my good looks from.

I’m so glad I decided to write this article because it allowed me to learn more about my Dad’s history. Furthermore, when I was interviewing my Dad I was able to learn the details surrounding my parent’s engagement.

If you don’t know your family’s history, I recommend you take the time to learn it. We never know when it will be too late. As a matter of fact, my Mom said to me during the interview that she wished she knew the details of her parent’s engagement.

The Back Story

My Dad graduated from Bowling Green State University in 1962 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration.  He knew he was going to be drafted into the military and so he decided to enlist in the Army in April of 1963. Being that he had his bachelor’s degree he qualified for officer candidacy school.

However, he had a rough basic training, waived his officer candidacy, and changed his enlistment to two years. This decision resulted in me being born. So I would say, well done, Dad, well done. Hopefully, Ms. Fiology readers feel the same. 🙂

Basic training fail…or was it?

I remember hearing this story when I was a little girl and it pretty much shaped my decision to never enlist in the military.

My Dad was running in basic training and heard his ankle crack. He knew it was broken and reported it. However, no one believed him and he was required to continue with basic training which meant running on a broken ankle. One week later he broke it harder and this time everyone heard it crack (gulp!). There was no doubt it was broken badly and he spent two weeks in the hospital.

This delayed basic training a bit but once he advanced from it, he went onto radio operator school. He did not have to go to Vietnam but rather was sent to Korea at the Communist border.

JFK’s Assassination

John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States, was assassinated on November 22, 1963. At the time my Dad was stationed in Korea and as a result of the assassination, the troops were put on high alert. My Dad told me about guarding the Communist border on Christmas morning from 12:00 AM to 3:00 AM. He remembers a Communist was yelling at him and it being very lonely.  At that moment, he realized he might be more productive at a different tour of duty.

He thought about his options as a college graduate and made a decision that morning to try out for the following three duties:

  1. The football team
  2. Chorus
  3. Journalism

He first tried out for the choir by singing the 7 Fold Amen and made it. That being said, he never tried for the other two.

After about 2 weeks of being in the choir under the direction of Frankie Ford, my Dad was told he couldn’t sing. Haha, he somehow fooled them in his audition! My Dad said, he had sung the 7 Fold Amen in college and practiced it many times. Apparently, that is where his singing abilities started and ended.

Anyway, they offered him to stay on as the lighting and sound producer. He took it.

Additionally, my Dad wrote a tribute to JFK that was published on the front page of the Delphos Herald (his hometown). We are trying to track down a copy of this. I’m particularly interested in reading this as now I love to write and it sounds that my Dad had a knack for writing too. Not only did I get my good looks from him…

Tour of Duty

My Dad is still friends with this Army buddy today.

In addition to being the sound and lighting producer, my Dad ultimately became the booking coordinator. My Dad was responsible for booking the choir to sing all over Korea and got to meet many famous entertainers in this process:

Bob Hope & Some Lovely Ladies

I would say this sounds like a sweet tour of duty! WTG, Dad.  Apparently, his officer buddies thought the same thing.

Fun fact: my Dad lent his uniform to Bob Hope’s son who was helping with the stage production.

My Dad was promoted in his last four months of service to SP/4 and finished his active duty in March of 1965. He remained in reserves for 4 years with the potential of being called back to active duty in the time of war. He never was.

The story of my parent’s first date

My Dad, Bill, was home from Korea and filling up his car with gas when he ran into a fraternity buddy from college.  His buddy, Tom, invited my Dad to his apartment to hang out with him & his wife, Shirley. Well, Shirley has this awesome sister named Mary Jane and decided she wanted to set her up with Bill.

Shirley knew Bill to be a playboy in college who dated a lot of women. Not the ideal guy to set up with your sister, right?! However, Shirley did not like the guy Mary Jane was dating so she figured Bill was a step up. Potentially she was hoping the military matured him. Either way, this little offspring is glad Shirly took that leap of faith. 😉

How the magic happened

Tom, Shirley, Bill, and Mary Jane went on a double date in the summer of 1965. Bill and Mary Jane went to bar after the date and talked to the wee hours of the morning.

They started to date steadily and shortly thereafter Bill took MJ home to meet his parents. MJ overheard Bill’s Mom saying she did not want him marrying a Catholic woman. You see Bill was from a Methodist family and Mary Jane a Catholic one. Awkward conversation to overhear.

My Dad was determined to marry MJ in spite of what his Mom said and on the ride home he proposed somewhere in Freemont, Ohio. Not only did I get my good looks and love of writing from my Dad but I also got his stubbornness. This is certainly a case in point when stubbornness can come in handy.

They were married in June of 1966 in a Catholic church (probably much to my Grandmother’s dismay). Ultimately my Grandma accepted this union and soon learned to love MJ as a daughter.

I learned that in the early years of my parent’s marriage, they went to separate churches. My Mom went to a Catholic church and Dad a Methodist one. Once they decided to have kids my Mom wanted to attend the same church and raise us with a united faith.

My Mom explained how this was a big sacrifice for her. She compromised for the sake of her family.  It took years before she really appreciated the benefit of this decision.

Dad & I
The two lovebirds on their 50th wedding anniversary and their three offspring.

Closing Thoughts

I simply loved hearing the details of my Dad’s military story. Furthermore, it was awesome to get the full scoop surrounding how my parents met.  Take the time to get to know your family history. You never know what you’ll uncover.

I’ve had some rocky years in my past and particularly some with my Dad. However, I’m blessed that we intentionally make our relationship better today. I truly enjoy his company and cherish my family.

Dad, thank you for your service to our country. Thanks for being my Dad. I love you.

14 thoughts on “A Tribute to a Veteran – My Dad”

  1. A lovely article! My grandpa fought in the Korean War & was awarded a bronze star. My brother was stationed 20 miles south of the DMZ in 2005-2006.

    1. Hey you! Oh wow, we have some family similarities. Thank you to your Grandpa and brother for their service. It is funny that your Grandpa was in Korea 10 only 10 years before my Dad…that might speak to our age gap. Fortunately, I still feel and act like I’m in my 20’s so we can totally hang 😉

  2. Deanna, I so appreciate you posting any article about me, and how accurate you were about the details. I must admit some of the article brought tears to my eyes!

    We love you and cherish you,
    Dad

    1. Awe, thanks, Dad! I really enjoyed learning the details. This article was one of my favorites to write. Now we have a log of how our little our family came to be.

      I love and cherish you.

  3. Deanna this was absolutely beautiful! I love this post more than almost any other just because it is so beautifully heartfelt. Many thanks to your father for his years of service to our country.

    1. Andrea, you are the kindest! I think this has been my favorite to write. I know I’ve said that about others and they were all true until I’ve written another favorite. 🙂

      Thank you for your beautiful comment. I’ll make sure my Dad sees it.

  4. Beautifully written . . . wonderful family tribute. Such a gift you have to be able to put your thoughts and feelings into expressive words. You are richly blessed!

  5. What a wonderful tribute to your dad and my brother. I learned from your story also Deanna. When I look at Bill in these pictures , I realize how much he and David look alike. I loved reading this.

    1. Thank you, Dian! I love interviewing Dad and learning about all the details.

      Yep, David and Dad look a lot alike. We always said David looks a lot like Grandpa (your Dad) when we look at pictures of his younger years. I come from a long line of good-looking people. 🙂

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