Monday, May 29, 2006
My Dad's Parents, on Memorial Day
Both of my dad's parents served in uniform during World War II. Grandpa enlisted in the Army Air Corps well before Pearl Harbor, and spent the war repairing bombers in Britain. The picture above shows him, with his section, in front of a B-17--the same type of aircraft that has been flying low and slow over my house the last couple days. He served 20 years in the Air Corps/Air Force, and after retiring, served another 20 in the civil service doing what he did so well--repairing aircraft. He's rested here for the last 9 years:
His grave is just to the left of the large military memorial.
Nana also served. She was a British subject when the war broke out, living in Coventry, and answered her country's call to duty by serving in the Auxiliary Territorial Service, a "women's branch" of the British Army. She rose to the rank of sergeant, serving as an IFF operator (identification, friend or foe) in a mixed-gender anti-aircraft artillery battery. In the following picture she's in the second row, just right of center.
Nana was discharged from service in 1943. She's still physically quite healthy, and currently lives in an assisted-living community not too far from me. Her Alzheimer's Disease prevents her from telling me the stories she used to tell me about her wartime service, but I still remember them. She was tickled to pieces when I found an 8x10 picture of her in uniform, which she now displays it in her apartment at the home. Nana was proud of her service to her country.
Nana brought my toddler dad to the United States shortly after the war ended. They lived with my "grandfather's people" in the hinterlands of Pennsylvania until they could finally join my grandfather at his new assignment in Massachusetts. It was the first of many places across the United States where they would be stationed. She became a US citizen not long after coming here--and this country has seldom had a more devoted daughter.
Nana and grandpa met in late 1942. I used to have the v-mail grandpa sent to his parents in which he mentioned meeting "a new girl"; I hope to find it. They were married for over 60 years.