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.
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.