Veteran’s tell their stories

Veteran’s tell their stories

After spending the last five November 11th s attending various events here in Abilene and writing about honoring veterans past and present, I spent this Veteran’s day at home. This occasion came as my father’s three sisters came for a visit from Idaho, New Mexico and Robert Lee. Wife Loretta had the day off from work at Dyess AFB and I took the opportunity to cook lunch for the whole crew. {{more}}As they walked in, my cousin Elizabeth told us that she had an announcement. She then told us that as the only non-veteran or widow of a veteran, that she would do all the serving and cleanup. We looked around at each other and slowly accepted that fact. My Aunt Ulla’s Charley served in the Navy in WW II as did Nina’s Jack Brewer. Aunt Dick’s Woody and my father served in the Army. Loretta and I are retired Army Officers. Sister Elaine is a retired EOD First Sergeant.This young man waves a Thank You to all of out brave Veterans. Photo by Joe Starkey Elizabeth then took over setting the tables and as I finished cooking the various dishes, put them in servers. After we sat down, she did the honors and thanked each one of us for our service.After the meal, we sat and talked about our experiences in the service both as serving members as well as spouses supporting them. Many of the stories were about the childhood experiences of the “Greatest Generation” but my generation managed to get them to tell some of the war stories that they normally did not tell. Father told of his brother Bob who trained for 14 months in a Battalion before it was shipped to Africa. As Bob told it, “anyone who did not actively dodge responsibility” became an NCO when the Battalion became a Regiment . They were having trouble in the town because the Arabs were pro-German and would catch GIs in dark alleys, beat them up and then run them out to the town square and leave them hanging upside down and naked from the tree there. The commanding General called for all NCOs and then asked how many had ever fired a pistol. Bob was among those who raised their hands. The rest were dismissed and the General issues those still there a 45 pistol and told them they were to go to town, appear drunk and stagger into the alleys. Once there, they were to take out the pistol and when attacked “Kill everything in the alley.” It only took two weeks before any GI could walk into a dark alley and have all the inhabitants running out the other end.Mother told of how father would walk from Camp Barkley cross country to Eskota to spend Sunday with her and her family. I looked it up and it’s well over 20 miles and he walked both ways. That’s a lot of dedication to spend 4-5 hours with your girl. Maybe that’s why they are still married over 60 years later.We heard stories from all three of the sisters that we didn’t know and now they are written down in a diary I keep of those stories. The Greatest Generation won a World War, came home and rebuilt American changing many ways of living and doing business. They are now mostly over 85 and dying at the rate of 8,000 to 15,000 every day and have, for the most part – NEVER told their stories. Please take the time to visit your parents and grandparents and sit with them and get them to tell you their stories. There are several projects to record the verbal histories while some are writing them in diaries and others are simply listening so they can pass the stories down to their children. Do not let this history be lost.These young men were standing proud at this years veteran’s parade. Photo by Joe Starkey These are Abilene’s men in uniform. Photo by Joe Starkey The Grace Museum is a reminder of the grace given to Abilene. Photo by Joe Starkey The flags are a refreshing sight to see. Photo by Joe Starkey