Monday, June 6, 2011

We honor

It was time to  set the military plaque at my dad’s gravesite this weekend.  You might know we would pick the hottest, muggiest, day so far this year.  But we wanted to do it while my sister, Kathleen, was home visiting – so this past Saturday was the day.

A word to the wise.  If you plan on digging around a loved one’s grave and there are little ones involved, clearly explain what you are doing first.  They looked on in horror, and Cara said “are you going to dig him up?!?!”, as we quickly regrouped and explained what was going on.


My brother, Tom, set the plaque in place.  There is a story behind the angel food cake sitting on the headstone.  Mom and Dad loved angel food cake, and dad always proudly baked one for family events – knowing it would be the lightest and tallest – of any other cake.  The one on the headstone doesn’t do dad’s cakes justice, but as Kathleen said, “It is probably a good thing”.  He wouldn’t have liked it if my cake turned out taller and lighter than any of his!


Dad’s great grandkids carefully brushed the dirt away.


Last week Kathleen and I continued the time consuming task of going through mom and dad’s many photo albums.  Although I had already scanned a lot of photos, there was much left to decide.  After she left, I continued browsing, and happened on a manual typewritten piece of paper.  I quickly realized at some point dad had briefly documented his service history.  My guess it was used as speaking points at one time or another.  But how timely to find it the day before we planned on honoring him.  Here is what it said:
I was inducted in the Army Air Force in February 1943. I soon found that army life would be much different from civilian life. Basic training was very rigid both for the mind and body. This was necessary, however, to prepare the body for combat if needed and the mind to follow orders without question.
Next I was sent to radio operators school to learn Morris Code. From there I went to Yuma Arizona to gunnery school to learn how to fire 30 and 50 caliber machine guns from an aircraft to targets on the ground and moving targets pulled by other aircraft. I was then assigned to a crew on B17 aircraft with the 8th Air Force in Ardmore Oklahoma. I was then transferred to a B29 outfit in Salina Kansas, and from there sent to Guam in the Mariana Islands with the 39th Bomb Group of the 20th Air Force.
The trip to Guam was no fun as we were all sent by boat that crisscrossed the Pacific taking 30 days to make the trip.
Guam is about 5 miles wide by 30 miles long. All the buildings were leveled by the war and most of the people set up grass huts to live in. The 39th bomb group was at the north end of the island and the airstrip was just finished to accommodate the B29 Aircraft. The jungle was just cleared away and we had to sleep on the ground. There were lots of lizards, but they were the kind that didn’t bite. Eventually they erected Quonset huts for us to live in so we could sleep on cots.
I was on Guam for one year until the end of the war and was discharged from the Army Air Force in February 1946.

So while Tom read the words written by dad many years ago, we each took a chunk of angel food cake and remembered and gave thanks.

IMG_2393    IMG_2392

We finished off the afternoon with a BBQ of the best pork steaks ever known to mankind (I kid you not) and all of the fixin’s to go with it.  The cicadas were relentless – bomb diving into our hair and making a racket that only the 13 year emergence of cicadas can make. 


AliceKay said...

What an awesome post and tribute to your father. I can see the love behind every word.

The typewritten note you found was truly a treasure. Isn't it amazing what our parents and grandparents have been thru during their lives?

I'm glad your family all got together to place the military plaque. The angel food cake picture at the end was beautiful. A big thanks to your father, and men and women like him, who gave what they could and served our country well.

Beautiful post. *hugs*

(cept for those cicadas...they give me the heebie jeebies just reading what you

Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Oh My Gosh, this is so cool that you honored your Dad and Mom in this way. Those little grandkids will remember that forever.
You all do the coolest family things!

Rita said...

How perfect that you discovered his own words to read over his military plaque! I LOVE the angel food cake toast to grandpa!! Even if it was hot and muggy, it looks like a perfect day (despite scaring the children--LOL!).

Toriz said...

What a beautiful - and interesting - post!

I had to chuckle at the grandkids' reactions, and Cara's question though.

Vicki Lane said...

A wonderful way to honor your father -- the angel food cake is the perfect touch!

Funny in My Mind said...

I read this aloud to my son and he loved hearing about it first hand.
I think it is so neat how you hold the memories for the next generations like with the cake.
You had to mention those cicadas! I am on week 2 of being a hostage and I am missing all this amazing hot weather that I wait for all winter.

Intense Guy said...

This is an awesome post and tribute to your father. I can see the love in each and every family member - and it was a celebration of life - a life that was lived with courage, honesty, and dignity - and shared with family that loved with open arms.

I think my favorite photo is the grandchildren brushing the dirt off the plaque - a simple, touching tribute that made me all shiny-eyed.

We salute your father - and bow our heads in respect as we honor his "Final Flight."

Texas Gal said...

What a wonderful father you had!! Such a great post. and he would of been proud of your cake :)

I often wonder when I read something like this if our fathers may of crossed paths. My dad strung the lines for the telegraphs in Guam and the Phillipines and was drafted about the time your dad was.

That corgi :) said...

what a wonderful tribute to your dad and his military service, Deanna. I like how you had all the family involved with setting the plaque and then celebrating your dad's life afterwards with the angel food cake; what a sweet thing; I'm sure it brought back lots of memories of his cakes over the years!


Cheryl @ The Farmer's Daughter said...

Great post, Deanna, and a wonderful tribute to your dad. He would be so proud of all his family gathered to place a plaque to honor his military service. And the toast with angel food cake like he made is just the neatest thing! Great photos, thanks for sharing this with us.

ChicagoLady said...

What a wonderful tribute to your dad! I think he would have loved all the family members there, with the angel food cake too.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post and I just have to say that I love how so many family members got together to go out and visit and clean your dads grave. That is just wonderful and you can see how close your family is :o)

jewelzmomof4 said...

Mom we really enjoyed going out to Grandpas grave. It was nice to visit him and Grandma. I absolutely LOVED the angel food cake tribute and I want a copy of grandpas letter emailed to me. I want to keep that forever. I miss them so much!! I also think my favorite picture is the one of the kids brushing off the dirt with such care. I know that day will stick with all of us but i know it really had an impact on Travis. He made sure he was dressed nice for Grandma and Grandpa. They were and still are so special to him.

Saloma Furlong said...

I would like to add my voice to say what a touching tribute this is... thank you for sharing this.

And what a testament to your family that you all worked together on this project and broke bread (cake) together, as a way of remembering.

Many blessings to you and all your family!