The Memory of a Patriotic Man

Tomorrow is Memorial Day in America. It is a time that we remember those who have fallen in battle for our country. I saw a sign where there would a be special memorial service at the grave yard tomorrow to honor all those who had fallen. These men gave their lives for America. My dad was a career military man, and his top priority was always America. He said America was his first wife and my mom was his second. He trained me to stand in respect if they played the national anthem. He spent his life in service of his country. He is not one who was killed, but I always knew he could have been. He had a big scar on his forehead, bigger than Frankenstein’s scar, and it was a reminder of what happened to him.

During the Vietnam war, he was sent to Thailand to fix airplanes that flew over Vietnam. He was a sergeant, and an aircraft electrician. There are many different posts these men who love America and freedom fulfill to make the American military into one huge force. They go where they send them and do what they are asked. There were lots of people who protested America being in Vietnam, but we did it because we were asked to protect freedom. The French had been in Vietnam a long time, but they pulled out and left the job to us. When I first heard about the Vietnam war, my teacher was explaining to us that one by one countries were falling to Communism, and America was trying to stop the expansion because we believed in freedom.

Many in America were opposed to the war, and many in Thailand were too. They were only looking at their here and now, not at what could happen down the road if Communism wasn’t stopped. Even today, many young people don’t understand the threat that Communism poses to the world. In Thailand, the protesters were not just vocal, but they were physically proactive. My dad told me they used to shoot at the military base where he worked in Bangkok, Thailand. I talked to a man the other day who was in a different place in Thailand, and he said at times they sent small bombs toward the military bases. I have seen movies of the time and place and seen where there were bombings at cafes, etc. where the military men frequented. They were not on the front lines of the war in Thailand, but they were still in danger from radical protesters.

I was in high school in America when my dad was in Thailand. He wrote my mother letters often, but all of a sudden, the letters stopped. We didn’t hear from him for weeks, and it was quite worrisome. Eventually, he wrote a letter. He was in the hospital and had been too sick to write because of what one of those protesters had done. He could have died, but he survived to have a huge scar on his forehead going down the side of his face. When he wrote from his hospital bed, he still had all the bandages on his head.

He wasn’t shot. He lived off base in a bungalow. He had always ridden his bicycle to work because it kept him in good shape. He went out and got on his bicycle one day headed for the military base to work. He didn’t notice that his bicycle had been sabotaged. One of the protesters had taken a hacksaw and almost sawed his handle bars of his bike off, but they had done it in such a way that you couldn’t see at a glance what they had done. He headed off down the highway to the base on his bicycle. He always rode one of those bikes like the racers ride with the curvy handle bars that the rider leans on as they go down he road. As he was going down the road, all of a sudden, his handlebars broke in two where they had been sawed, and he went flying headlong onto the pavement. He was dazed and really didn’t understand what had happened to him.

He got up. He saw a taxi and flagged it down for help. He felt something warm on his face, but he still didn’t quite understand what had happened to him. When the taxi stopped, there was a woman in the back seat. When she saw how much blood was on his face flowing everywhere, she passed out. The taxi cab driver had him get in, and he hurried him to the hospital. The doctors sewed his head up, but it was such a big mess that it was a very difficult job, and they weren’t completely satisfied with what they had done. After it healed, it left a huge rugged looking scar on one side of his forehead and down the side of his face. They wrapped his head in bandages and put him to bed where he stayed for several weeks not knowing what was going on or where he was. When he finally began to come out of it, he asked for a pen and paper and wrote my mother a letter because he learned he had been there for several weeks, and he knew how worried she would be.

Eventually, he recovered, and eventually, he was sent back to America. When I graduated from high school, in 1973, he retired from the Air Force after twenty years. He still loved America, and he still loved airplanes. Whenever there was a show with airplanes or wherever there was a museum of airplanes, he had us there. We toured lots of airplanes, learned a lot about airplanes, and watched a lot of air shows. One of the big performers was the Blue Angels, a group of airplane pilots who do fancy tricks with their airplanes in the sky. He worked another twenty years as an electrician in construction and retired a second time. He learned to speak several languages. He was fluent in Thai, Arabic, and Spanish. He had used his languages in the service of his country. He passed away when I was back from Korea visiting him. I could work in Korea because of sacrifices of men like my dad because America had also been in Korea keeping Communism from taking over. When he passed away, my dad had been awake at night watching the Spanish television station and had a heard attack. When they buried, him, he was buried with full military honors. He and many others like him are our American heroes.

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