My father passed away last year, and through his pictures and papers I have learned much more about his " private life " in the military. He was not " just lucky " to become a Staff Sergeant, but instead had to take clerical courses in 1949 at the Air Force base in Wyoming, some of which it looks as though he had to pay for himself. ( Probably just taken out of his military pay. ) He was of course rewarded for his efforts with higher rank and of course a higher pay scale.
One of the most surprising things I found out about my father's military service was that he was awarded a medal for his military service. Under a heading of Decorations, Medals, Badges etc... on his discharge papers is the following entry : " Good Conduct Medal - Par 8 SO 15 Headquarters Clark Air Force Base & 6200th AB Wing APO 74 dated 18 Jan 52. " I wish my father were here so I could ask him why he never told me about the medal, but I am sure his answer would have been that it was no big deal. Another question I wish I could ask him is why on his discharge papers did it list his, " Most Significant Duty Assignment ", as Hq Sq Section 3650th M&S Group Sampson AFB Geneva, New York. Why was an assignment in New York more significant than two years of military service during the Korean War in the Phillipines ? Unfortunately he is gone now, and I will have to wait until I meet him again to ask my questions.
Another surprising thing I found were his photographs from his time in the Philippines. He always made it sound all very military, and as though it was all business, and that he had no time to make friends over there in the Philippines during the Korean War. What I see from the pictures is a man who when he received a pass to leave the base had a hell of a good time. There are pictures of dad with friends on the beaches, clowning around in town, and raising their glasses in salute. War may be hell, but the weekend passes looked like they were a bunch of fun ! I also found a picture from his basic training days. This picture was taken just outside of their barracks on the base. I counted 62 men posing in front of the barracks with a sign that reads Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, Basic Training Group. Flight 3431, Squadron 3733. This picture was taken in 1949.
I will go to his grave this morning and honor my father for everything that he did for me and my brother, and for the love and all those special moments we had together. I will make, out of small rocks, the outline of a ship around his grave and pour out libations for him and myself to share. My father would never have drunk mead so I will use his favorite libation, whisky. I will honor him as a military warrior, and as a man, father, and friend !
P.S. For those of you who are younger, get to know your fathers now while you still have a chance, because before you know it they will be gone, and so will their stories and deeds. If they give you simple answers, probe deeper ! I wish I had !
Go with Odin's Wisdom, Freyja' s love, and Thor's protection !