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The youngest in my father's family served in the Navy and I remember asking my uncle how he liked it. He said he was proud of his service but felt cheated because he did not see combat like my father. At the tender age of 9 or 10 I took that as saying combat must really be cool! He told me to ask my dad about it and see if it was as cool as i thought it was.

Some years later I did ask my father about his combat experiences. He never really spoke about them and when I asked him about them, all he would say was that it was ugly. Then the day came when I told my parents I had enlisted and I had 10 days before I would be leaving for MCRD Parris Island. First time I saw my father really cry. When I asked why he cried he said, "I had hoped you would never have to see what I have seen. I had hoped you would never see your fellow soldier tell you to keep your head down as he died in your arms after being sprayed with automatic gunfire. I had hoped you would never have to know the horrors that I have seen."

Some seven or eight years later long after my second tour in 'Nam I was home on leave and my parents had thrown a big party for me. There I stood in my dress blues saying hello to family and friends when the old man calls me over to him. He introduces me to a lady who had just recently moved into the neighborhood. When she saw my uniform she proceeded to ask me what I did in the military. Well my father paid me a compliment like no other I have ever received, he said, "My son is a professional soldier."

I have never been prouder which is why when I was elected last year as commander of my Legion post, then re-elected this year, I wish pop was there to see it all because I know he would be so proud.

My father was a patriot who truly believed the bumper sticker he had on his truck window that read "America, Love it or Leave It"! I miss you Pop but I am so proud to have been your son and to be shown what it is to be proud of your country.


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