I decided to get off the political stuff today, after all it is Veteran's Day.and being the son of a true World War Two hero (or so we all were told) I am entitled to a day off from trying to change (and save) the world. I am sure for those of you who have read this blog for awhile you may remember my Dad was in the Navy during the war, and on days like today, I think of him more so than usual.
So with that in mind here are some pictures and other stuff about his ship and service. My dad was a "Tin Can Sailor"
This picture was taken in July 1945, My dad's ship is the first destroyer to the left, next to the big ship. My guess is this is when my father got back from Japan after he liberated it (or so he always told us and who am I to argue?).
The ship was the USS Hawkins, DD-873, it was brand new when my father served on it. he was what is considered a "plank owner" part of the first crew of the ship.
My Dad never talked a lot about his service, and it wasn't until the year before he died that he attended a reunion of sorts with two of his shipmates and their wives. My mother had passed away a few years before and he told me one day he had received a letter one day about a meeting two of his shipmates wanted to have in Gettysburg and would I take him. There was no question that I would. After all here was my chance to learn the truth, no not about how my Dad won the war, but about why the ship had to turn around and go back to Pearl Harbor.
My father had told me they were on the way to participate in the upcoming invasion of Japan, this was before the bomb was dropped, and they had to turn back, leaving the convoy, because there was a fire aboard the ship. The Captain evidently didn't want to turn around, but eventually had to give in. They later learned that if they had stayed with the convoy, they would have been in a very large Naval Battle, I will say Saipan, but I am not sure if that was the one.
So to make a short story long, my father always said they never knew how the fire was started but there was speculation it may have been set. So I asked the question of the three old salts, "Which one of you started the fire?" They all pointed at each other and said "I heard it was you." After much discussion and consumption of some adult beverages it was determined the fire may have been started by some faulty wiring, however it was not determined if the faulty wiring was intentional. But that isn't the point.
As the discussion wore on, they mentioned how at the time of the fire, they were pretty upset because they all wanted to go and fight. They believed what they were doing was right. One of them mentioned how had they gone, there was a very good chance they would not have made it back, as this was the time when the Japanese were resorting to Kamikaze attacks and many ships were lost. A sobering thought when you think about it too long, if that had happened you wouldn't be reading this right now, and what a loss that would be.
But then one of my dad's shipmates said, "Even knowing that now, if we had to do it again, we would." That says an awful lot right there about veterans and WW2 vets in particular.
A few years after that I was reading the book "Flags of our Fathers" and in the book, the author who is writing about his father who was one of the men who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, and a discussion they had. Exactly where in the book it is, I don't remember, and it wasn't in the movie, but the father said to the son, almost exactly word for word, what my father's buddy said to me that night. "we would do it all again".
So on this Veteran's Day, I remember my Dad, his two buddies, Jack and Don, and all the rest of the crew of the "Sadie" Hawkins, who would do it all again.