Team Veteran: It Is a Family Affair

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my favorite veteran and father
My Dad’s┬áday at the office.

My father is no longer with us, but the honor of this day is justly served in remembering him with admiration, respect and love, though such a pronouncement would have made him wince; he would have told me he was just doing his job.

F-100 fighter jet and my pilot Dad

Captain Dad and his trusty steed (F-100) on the flight-line.

I grew up loving a veteran: my Dad, a larger than life man who flew jets from the time I could finger paint until the time I could vote. His Air Force career spanned three decades and covered the globe (sometimes with us, and sometimes without). Our lives were interwoven into his sense of duty, patriotism and honor. As his family, we were along for the ride, or flight (as the case may have been).

While other kids met their Dad at the door each day, we would assemble on the flight line to reunite with a man we hadn’t seen in months. There was no complaining, no whining, and no grousing about time lost, missed birthdays and anniversaries. We would pick up where we left off and embrace our lives together, for however long that would be until the next assignment or remote tour.

Mom Dad retirement
It takes a team: My mother being honored for her service at my father’s retirement ceremony.

Behind Dad was my mother. A veteran in her own right, she was the glue that held our family together during long absences and uncertain times. They were (and are) a team. When we’d say grace, we’d also pray for the safe return of my father. When my father was back at the head of the table, my mother would amend grace to include a pray of thanks and gratitude.

Dad's last flight in a fighter jet
My brother toasting my Dad’s final flight in an Air Force jet.

On this Veteran’s Day, I would like to salute the men and women of the armed forces for their service and to their families, for they don’t undertake this sacrifice and journey alone. Every day, our lives are touched by those who serve and have served our country. Every day we are likely to unknowingly encounter someone who has lost a loved one or a family member to the horrors of war.

Heroes are among us, living their lives quietly and without the recognition they so often deserve. Each veteran has a story, a story that plays out on the pages of our nation’s history and character.

From my father, to my three uncles who served in World War II, to my friend Leo who’s kind smile and quick laugh belie what his eyes have seen as a young soldier in Iraq and Afghanistan, I thank you all for your service. As a nation, know we not only hold you in high esteem this day, but every day.

Family pic

Home from overseas (Japan), and a few years before my brother joined the family.

My hometown hero
My hometown hero

I shared this post last year, and thought the message was worth repeating.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Definitely worth repeating, Tom. I still get chills and tears thinking about my brother in the Air Force, being shot down over Vietnam and rescued. His co-pilot had to endure more than 5 years as a POW. It is very difficult to explain what families went through during war time when the main family member was missing. It made strong men, a stronger wife and very understanding children. My husband was fortunately sent to Germany as an Army draftee and I was able to live with him there. It could have been worse. We were very fortunate.
    God Bless America. I could not be prouder at this time of year when we honor these men and women who gave so much, but also the families who endured through it all.

    • Wow Susan, I’m glad to read there was a good ending to your brother’s mission, but sorry his co-pilot had to endure the fate of a POW. I can’t even imagine. Who knows, your brother may have known my dad, as he was a pilot in Vietnam, too. Here’s to you and your husband’s service, too, thank you and well wishes.

  2. I see where you get your good looks Tom! Mom AND Dad. Your dad was a hunk! Add that to your mom’s good looks and voila! We get YOU!
    Such a sweet story, too.

  3. My husband’s dad was also a pilot in Vietnam. It’s my firmly held belief that it’s not just the wives (or now the husbands), but also the children who deserve our thanks and recognition for the sacrifices in their lives. On Veteran’s day, hug an army brat {Tom}

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