Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

It’s Fleet Week in New York and there are thousands of young sailors and Marines walking the streets, taking it the sights and generally enjoying themselves. I wish I could stop each one and thank them for their service but I don’t; I tell myself they don’t want to be bothered while they’re out having fun with their pals and I hope it isn’t just a rationalization.

I read this morning that the amount of time the
networks now devote to the war in Iraq is 4 minutes per week. Unbelievable.

I’d like to use this space today to acknowledge my family members who have served their country. Air Force Maj. Josh Olsen, a cousin, is the only person I know personally on active duty at the moment. He’s in the country now, but has flown numerous air refueling missions in the Middle East as a KC-135 pilot.

My brother Doug (Navy) is a Viet Nam era vet, and brother Jack (Air Force) served in peacetime Japan.

My wife’s uncle Harry Bosyk died flying a B-17 in Europe in WWII, and her father Bill, trained pilots in that war.

My mother’s brother, Ellsworth McGuire, couldn’t wait to get into that fight. He went to Canada in 1940 and joined the RCAF. As a pilot flying missions over the China-Burma “hump” his plane went down and was never found.

My dad, Jack Blank, was 19 when he joined the navy in 1943. He became a medic and was assigned to the Marines where he was a battlefield corpsman attending the wounded. He participated in the landings at Okinawa and Iwo Jima, the latter probably the most horrific battle of the war. He saw the flag raising on Mt. Surabachi, spent two years in the Pacific, endured numerous kamikaze attacks, and was on board his ship in Tokyo Bay to witness the Japanese surrender aboard the Missouri. He never said much about the war. A famous family story has a couple of my brothers watching John Wayne in The Sands of Iwo Jima in front of the family television many years ago. Dad walked through the room, watched a couple minutes of the movie, and walked out mumbling, “John Wayne doesn’t know shit about Iwo Jima.”

Thank you all.


Kaz said...

My Dad, Warren Kasler, was a combat engineer in the South Pacific. He never talked about it much either. As to Vietnam I only knew one person who died there. It was Larry Spalding, a southpaw on Jonsey's, my little league team. He was the best pitcher in the league, but we never won it all. Always the bridesmaid, as our dear sponsor would say.

Remember them all.

Birdman said...

I'd forgotten that Doug was in the Navy. I think he was in the entire time we were in college. I do remember Jack was in the Air Force where he was able to enjoy the "comforts" of Korea. (nod, nod, wink, wink). You sure have a lot of veterans in you family.

I like to acknowledge my father-in-law who was a marine in the WW II and took part in the invasion of Okinawa. All of my wife's uncles (6 in all) fought and survived the war. I haven't had a veteran in my family since the battle Gettysburg (which we lost).

Thanks to all and Semper fi to Big Jack and Fletcher Thompson!

d'blank said...

Thanks for these comments. I hope everyone will add a note of thanks to those close to you who served.

DMJ said...

I come from a long line of relatives who did not perfom military service. However,, being the youngest of the youngest, I had an uncle who served in the War to end all Wars, yep WWI. (my dad was too old to serve in WWII).
Not only was Uncle Matt not born in the US of A, he was not born in the 20th century.(He was, however, listed as being form Warren, Ohio.

Thansk to all who have served, since many of us boomers did not.

hankster said...

My grandfather on my father's side was a cook in the American Expeditionary Force in WWI.

My father was a dentist in WWII.

One of my uncles flew the "Hump" as well in C47s. I was told he almost crashed but the plane did a ground loop on landing and they made it.

Another uncle was in the 10th Mountain Division. He was in Monte Casino/ Riva Ridge (yes, it was a combat mission in Italy before the race horse was named after it as well as the ski run at Vail). He came late to the 10th Mtn and never learned to ski, like Bob Dole. Somehow he survived on ill-fitting snowshoes.

JDB said...

Thank you Denny, that was very nice. There is a way to say "thanks" to servicemen without bothering them.

birdman said...

Is it possible that among this wide circle of friends and aquaintances, that I'm the only one unlucky enough to have been drafted?

DMJ said...


I thought you were lucky to have been drafted. While the rest of us were doing unmentionables, you were serving our Country. Besides, dont you get lifetime medical benefits at a VA hospital near you?
(I am assuming that you recieved an honorable discharge)

birdman said...

From the distance of history I don't regret it at all, but at the time, (1971) there was a certain risk involved in conscription that I wasn't too thrilled about. Fortunately, they had me fight the cold war on the east German border.

I got educational benefits and a guaranteed GI home loan but if you're not a retiree or have a service related disability, you don't get squat.

Felines said...

Those men and women are the best.

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