Thursday, January 14, 2016

Remembering Dad #8: Dad's First Job

To my knowledge Dad didn't work; that is, for a living, during high school or college. Although he may have worked during summer breaks. So, I'm saying his first job was in the military as a soldier during WWII.

When I was growing up I saw Dad's photo album from his Army days. It was a scrapbook with wooden covers that he or someone had inscribed using a wood burning tool of some sort. It was varnished. I don't have it. I hope John or Joan does.

Dad, like many WWII veterans, didn't talk a lot about his Army days, but he gave me some general information. I'm not sure about chronological order, but here are some things I know. He had the rank of lieutenant, so he was an officer. It's possible that he started as a warrant officer and moved up from there. He was stationed for his training on the East coast. For sure he spent some time at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey. I've seen photos. It seems to me he also made mention of being at or maybe just near Fort Dix, also in New Jersey. Dad was also at Maxwell Field in Alabama.

There was also a point when he was at West Point for training. Dad was not a West Point cadet, but West Point was where some soldiers, like Dad, were sent for specialized training. This may have been where he received training as a radio operator and/or as a navigator. I remember being impressed with what Dad described as "square meals" at West Point. They literally had to sit at attention and eat by moving their utensils at right angles.

West Point is near New York City, and I think Dad went there a lot when he could go places off post. When he took us there for a vacation in 1960 he really knew his way around, and he hadn't been there since the 40s.

Dad was in the Air Corps division of the Army. The Air Corps was not a separate branch of the Armed Services until 1947, which was after WWII. I'm fairly sure he was a navigator, not a pilot. I remember him saying so. He may have had to use his radio training in that capacity.

One thing he never told me about is if he went overseas or was stationed only state side. If he was state side only, then he may have been involved in training others for overseas duty. I just don't know. As I mentioned earlier many WWII vets didn't talk about their experiences of war. It's in more recent years that some of the old vets are telling their stories. Dad didn't live to that ripe old age.

I never had the impression that Dad was a gung-ho military man. Rather, he looked on service to the country as a civic, patriotic duty, especially then, during WWII. I do recall also that he was of the opinion that all U.S. citizens should serve a minimum of two years, either in the military or doing something like The Peace Corps.

His attitude influenced me to join the military at a time when it wasn't such a popular choice. I, too, was never an enthusiastic military person, but I had the same attitude as Dad. I think it's a duty for everyone to serve this country in some way, but not necessarily in the military. I also served by teaching in the inner city of Chicago, a place where good teachers are sorely needed, and where children deserve better than they usually get. Those were some of the best kids I ever taught---so real---so grateful for small kindnesses. They were also tough, but so was I.

Sidebar: Both Mother and Dad discouraged any of us working when we were in school. Their attitude was that school was our work. When school was not in session during summer and at Christmas break, then they didn't mind if we worked.

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