Veterans Day is kind of a fun day for me. I get to contact all of my family members to thank them for serving and they think me back. I myself served in the Army for 10 years, in the reserves, but I actually come from a long line of Naval folks.
In fact, for all of my 10 years of service the phrase I usually heard from family was, “Shoulda gone Navy!” From my own father, to my cousins… shoulda gone Navy, Kay 😉
But no one can top telling me that I should have gone Navy than my grandfather, Ed LeClere. My grandfather was the one who hosted family gatherings and allowed 16 crazy grandchildren to wreak havoc upon it. My grandfather is famous for making navy bean soup for all weary travelers who showed up at his door. He is the one that had the speedboat behind which we all learned to water ski. He had the most awesome and amazing sledding hill behind his house. His garage had the flat roof which we all would climb up on and then dared each other to jump off.
But my grandfather was not always just grandpa. He was once a son whose mother had to kiss good-bye. He was the boyfriend my grandmother watched shipped out and prayed for. He was drafted in 1943 and went to serve in the Navy during WWII.
As a section leader during boot camp, here in extra Chevron with the “square not Admiral rate”
Grandpa was an airplane mechanic!
This is the route for his tour of duty. He served in Manila in the Philippines and basically island hopped as he serviced planes.
And like all good soldiers he married his sweetheart before he shipped out 😉
This is grandpa at his bunk and with his teammates in Manila.
He even survived a little bit of hazing as he crossed the equator for the first time. There was a ceremony in which you had to kiss Neptune’s big toe on the main deck to cross over from a lowly ‘polywoog’ to a well seasoned ‘shellback’
He was pretty excited when World War II ended and he could go back home to his wife and young son. You see, back then we didn’t have Skype, we didn’t have the Internet. My grandmother waited patiently for letters to arrive, faithfully wrote her own letters, and raised a little boy who had never met his father
He was honorably discharged and sent back home to Cedar Rapids, Iowa where he would hold down up to three jobs at a time so that my grandmother could stay home to raise their five children. He would see three of his own boys enter the Navy and serve during the Vietnam war. He would watch his grandchildren enter the Navy, the marines (also Navy)… And one oddball granddaughter join the army 😉
My grandfather remained in the naval reserve for years after World War II. He was even called back into service during the Korean War. Of course it made sense for Naval reserve folks to have to take a cruise every year to stay “up to snuff”.
My grandfather was released from the Korean War duty and was able to go home to help raise his family. The youngest boy at home during this time was my father.
When we were stationed in Washington DC, I had the privilege of meeting my grandfather at The Mall downtown to celebrate his service during World War II. He had been offered to take an honor flight to tour the Nation’s capital. He had the time of his life and I really appreciate what the honor flight does for our veterans.