Technically Memorial Day is a holiday to remember casualties of war. But I’m going to expand the definition a bit to honor some people I know who are, or have been, members of the US Military, most notably my father.
This handsome dude is my dad. He’s about 19? 20? in this picture.
Charles Wayne Hall served in the US Navy for four years. Fortunate for him (an subsequently for myself and my siblings), he served just before the Vietnam war broke out, in a time of relative peace. He met my mom during his active duty, and thus perhaps I owe the Navy for my very own existence years later. He was a star enlisted man, earning many accolades, serving as the sonar-man on a small submarine called the USS Trigger.
He has many stories of that time. It is sort of a joke in our household, that dad only served four years, but he has enough stories to fill the career of an admiral. I cannot count the number of times I’ve heard about the time he tracked a Soviet submarine, how he fell into icy stormy waters while in the north atlantic and nearly died, how he slept on a torpedo bay, and many other adventures. However, no matter how many time I hear these sea tales, I don’t get tired of them, though I try not to let him know that. The fact is, I’m proud that he served the United States, proud that he saw the world, got to go to Europe and the Mediterranean, spent months at sea listening to sonar for hours on end. Though I have not served in the military myself, I can relate to his excitement, and nostalgia for his adventures, having had the fortune to travel the world recently myself.
Pretty cramped quarters
As a kid, I cherished a box of coins he collected from his travels, a broken Trigger Zippo, and a framed photo of the crew on the deck of the sub.
The experience made him the man he is today, and it was obviously a positive one, because he is one of the most honorable and reliable people I know. He’s always been there for me, no matter what, and for that I am thankful. Four years is not a long time in the scheme of someones life, but that’s four years more than I have served, possibly preventing me from having to serve when I was his age. I will always be proud of his service.
No matter what your politics, I should hope that people respect the sacrifice that our military makes, and has made, for years. I, for one, think very highly of anyone willing to step up, and put their life on the line, for people they’ve never met.
To finish this post out, in addition to my own father, here are a few more folks close to me that I’d like to mention on this memorial day:
- My great uncles, who fought in WWII. Uncle Bill landed on a still precarious Normandy beach the day after D-Day, to drive a bulldozer for the famous Sea-Bees. He died a few years back and was given a 21 gun salute, from which I was given a shell casing.
- My old Scoutmaster, Mr. Fox, who served in Vietnam and saw a lot of his friends die. I would not be an Eagle Scout today if it were not for him.
- My best friend Ben’s younger brother Jason, who is finishing up a four year stint in the Marines, during which he’s been stationed in Iraq twice.
- Mr. Timmerman, one of my dad’s best friends, who flew in one of the observation planes over Hiroshima, after the bomb was dropped at the end of WWII. A great person, whom I always looked up to.
- Nate Heleterkelterson, one of my camp friends, currently learning to fly planes in the Army air program (god help us all). He also just got engaged today, so a timely congrats.
- My other buddy Nate, who plays video games with us, who was in one of the first units to cross into Iraq at the beginning of the current conflict.
- Brandon B, one of my most talented kayaking students from my days as a camp instructor. Recently deployed to Europe in the Army as an officer.
- Trevor, a kayaking buddy and co-instructor, who served in the Marine honor unit at Camp David for several years.
- Hamp, a very gracious friend who took me surf kayaking while I was in Hawaii, who has been a career pilot for the Pacific fleet officers.
- Sebastian, one of the members of my scout troop, who has been in the MP dog training program and served in Iraq
- And all of the other brave soldiers I have met over the years. Thank you.