November 11th. Orignally set aside for the rememberance of WWI soilders, as it was at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that the Armistice went into effect after it was signed earlier that morning, as the time to end hostilities on the Western Front. It was signed in a railroad car in the French woods; which was later blown up by the German army during WWII. After World War II it became more widespread to honor servicemen from all wars, and the name was changed to Veterans Day in the US, and Rememberance day in the British Commonwealth.
Anyhow, it is also the day after my father’s death in 1993. He spent six years in the Naval Reserves. But with preperations for the wake and funeral, I found out from the funeral home that short term in the reserves does not make him a veteran in the eyes of the Goverment. No plot, no headstone, no honor guard, no flag. So, as we family decided on a closed casket, I supplied a casket flag from my collection. But the funeral home placed it on the casket the wrong way. So, after getting that fixed, I had to show the funeral home staff the proper way to display a flag on a closed casket as listed in the flag regulations. It was the early 1990s and they were just not having the experience anymore with military funerals.
In 1951, his summer cruise was on the USS Navarro APA 215, out of Norfolk, Va. where he got to load 40mm guns. In 1952 he was on the USS Osberg, DE 538 (destroyer escort) out of Newport, RI where he was assigned to the 5-inch guns aft; and in the fall on the PC 1182 (sub chaser) out of New London, Conn. where they got to cruise down the East River (right past Astoria Park, near where dad lived at the time) into the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
My dad’s other activites in the Naval Reserve included a long trip to the Panama Canal, Panama City, Cristobal, Panama and Cartagena, Columbia in late June 1954. On that trip he brought home for his fiance (soon to be wife) a Panama 1 Balboa coin in a jewlery mount. I remember looking at that coin when I was a grammer school student, and Mom still has it.
However, the coolest photo group I have is of the reserve unit’s Christmas Party on the training ship Praire State (The former Battleship USS Illinois, of the Great White Fleet fame), with my dad in uniform, my mom in a satin ball gown, and music by Burl Ives and the Bob Logan Band.
In addition to what I rembember of my dad’s stories of life aboard ship and his photo album, I have from his collection a lighter from the USS Osberg, and a water decal on metal car topper from the N.R. Surf. Div 3-79, NY.
No matter what else was in his wallet – up until the end, he always had a wedding photo and one of him working shipboard. He was proud of his time in uniform.
So, make sure you have your poppy on this week, and say thanks to a veteran.