My Dad, Ross Charles Tench married my Mom (Margaret) in 1938 and had a beautiful baby girl on their anniversary in 1939. Another baby girl followed and then a boy. World War II had started and Dad first worked for the government at a Blimp Base in Elizabeth City, NC followed by a stint at the Naval Yards in Brunswick. Ga. By the time 1943 rolled around Dad enlisted in the US Navy and served onboard the USS Providence CLG-6 until the war ended in 1945. Four more kids would follow, another girl and three more boys. I was the baby of seven kids and I admired my Father for serving during the Greatest Generation and for being an honest and respected man all of his life. When the Vietnam War came along I was of draft age and I decided to enlist. The first thought that came to my mind was to follow in my Dad's footsteps...so I joined the US Navy in 1969. After bootcamp my first tour of duty was 18 months in Morocco, Africa. I was a Radioman and served at a Naval Communication Station there. Following that I was stationed on a submarine tender, the USS Howard W. Gilmore AS-16 homeported in Key West, Florida. From there was a cruise to the MED with a homeport of La Maddalena, Italy. I know my Dad was proud of me and I cherish my four years in the Navy where I made many lifelong friends that I still stay in contact with today.
The interesting part is that the tradition continued. My oldest brother's son Chuck Tench (my nephew) enlisted in the Navy and served onboard the USS Forrestal CV-59. Now Chuck's nephew, Drew Tench is currently serving onboard the USS John Stennis CVN-74 in the Mid East. That makes at least one family member from each generation that has served in the US Navy. I also have cousins and family friends that have served in the Navy as well. It has been interesting to keep up with the technology as each member brings home stories from the Navy. Sadly my Dad passed away in 2006 at the age of 87 but my Mom will soon be 91 and the family consists of 7 children, 19 grandchildren, 36 great grandchildren and 9 great, great grandchildren with two more on the way.
My Dad was a lifelong member of the Paw Creek American Legion (Post 353) in Charlotte, NC and I joined the same Post over 15 years ago. One of my proudest moments was being at the ceremony where my Dad was given his Certificate for 50 years of service to the American Legion. That is another way that I would like to follow in my Dad's footsteps if I am lucky enough to live that long.