Monday, November 12, 2012

Two Vets

 This is a tale of two U.S. Army veterans--My father and I. My father served in World War II;  he was in combat from the D-day landings in North Africa until he ended the war in Germany(See post of June 19, 2009). I was on active duty from July 1 1964 until June 30 1966--Vietnam. More about that later.

My father and I were separated from the time I was three years old until I was six. As you can imagine I thought he walked on water. I wanted to do what he did, wear what he wore, etc. He brought some things home with him that he used during the war, a few of which I still have. One of the things that came home with him was a musette bag, shown here. This is not the one he brought home, but a photo of one exactly like it.

When I got old enough to go on hikes, join the Boy Scouts, etc Dad's musette bag became my back pack. It was a lousy back pack, but that didn't matter. If my Dad used it, it must be great!

In North Africa while waiting for the invasion of Sicily he bought a pair of British combat boots at a PX the Brits had set up in Bizerte. They were great boots--very nice leather, lined with glove leather and very well made. Dad's foot was about 1/2 to 3/4 size bigger than mine as an adult, but I didn't care. They were HIS, and so as soon as I could reasonably wear them I did. I don't remember now if I stuffed paper in the toes or just slopped around. In the photo below he is on the left in these combat boots, in France after the war has ended.

They were not GI issue, but after you've been in combat awhile nobody argues with you unless you get completely ridiculous.

While he was in Sicily  waiting to go to Italy he had an Italian leather worker make him this holster for his 45. For some reason or other he didn't like the GI issue one. He brought the holster home, but did not bring his 45. I have the holster and the weapon in it is a government issue 1911 45, manufactured by Colt. It was worn high, sort of like a shoulder holster. He is wearing it in the photo below; he is the one on the right.

Also he has a pair of Bausch & Lomb binoculars slung over his shoulder. They also came home; I still have them. They are shown in the photo below with their case.

Above is yours truly camped on Mt Lemmon at about age 14. To my left is a sleeping bag, spread over some logs or something. You are correct. This was Dad's sleeping bag that he used for the duration of the war and brought home. I used it for years. It wasn't that good a sleeping bag but hey! it was his. Plenty good enough for me. It went to it's rest years ago.

He also brought back a collapsible canvas bucket, shown below, which I still have.

This next photo shows it in action on the above camping trip.

 This is me during college days at the University of Arizona. I was in ROTC and was part of some sort of honor guard when this photo was taken. I went to medical school after three years of  college and was given a direct commission as a 2nd Lt in the Medical Service Corps. At the end of my internship, after 4 1/2 years of active reserve, I was ordered to active duty for two years. I was stationed at Sandia Base(Albuquerque), Ft Bliss and Arlington Heights, Ill. where I ended my military career as the commanding officer of a small dispensary. For some reason or another I can find no photos of me on active duty.

This was the time when Lyndon Boob decided he needed a war(1965). I was ordered to Ft Bliss to join the 85th Evacuation Hospital which was the first Evac hospital sent to Vietnam. It turned out I had bilateral retinal hemorrhages and was pulled out of the 85th and sent to Arlington Heights.For years I felt guilty for not going; I felt that I let my father down because I didn't go. At the time he said he was glad I didn't go, but he didn't really say much about it. A few years before he died he volunteered that he was so glad that I had not gone to Vietnam. He thought it a stupid, useless war not worth the price of a single American.

Thanks, Dad. And thanks to all the other vets for your service.


  1. I love my dad's old army stuff too. I gave a bunch of it to Todd.

    That last photo looks like Dean.

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