D-Day, June 6, 1944, Omaha Beach, Normandy.
Staff Sgt. Robert Brant, U.S. Army, started his journey across France and ended it in the Rhineland a year later. He was then in the Army of Occupation until the magic point sent him home to be with his wife and new son (born May 4, 1944).
He didn't talk about the war very often. Neither did my Uncle Dick, U.S. Navy, or my adopted Uncle Hank (Army Air Corps. P-47 pilot). Although Hank was not my grandmother's son, she raised him along with my dad and his four brothers. They all survived the war and returned to their families.
Fast forward to 1962. I joined the Air Force out of high school and, after basic training and Air Police Technical School at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was assigned to Lincoln Air Force Base (SAC), Nebraska, 818th Combat Defense Squadron guarding nuclear-laden B-47 bombers and Atlas ICBMs and served a short stint in a Base Police Flight on patrol and gate duty.
During this time we experienced the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) and Kennedy assassination (1963). Both events brought the country to the brink of war and elevated the military's Defense Condition (DefCon) levels.
While at Lincoln I was deployed on temporary duty status to RAF Upper-Heyford, England once, Zaragosa AB, Spain twice, and Moron AB, Spain once to guard our alert B-47s. The deployments were voluntary and had as much to do with getting away from the frequently well below zero wind chill factors of the bomber alert areas, Lincoln weather, and 12-hour duty stints as any dedication considerations.
Lincoln AFB was closed in 1966 and I received an advanced one-year permanent change of station in February 1965 to a U.S detachment on a Royal Hellenic Air Base at Souda Bay, Crete. My status was changed from Air Police to Custody Agent as our mission (classified Top Secret) was to guard underwing nuclear units mounted on Greek Air Force F-84Fs.
The Greeks and Turks were in what amounted to a "hot" war over the island of Cyprus and wanted desperately to bomb the base at Souda Bay in retaliation for an air strike on Turkish Cypriots which originated from our base. The only thing preventing it was the presence of 76 American airmen on the base, but it was touch and go for the year I was there. I left for the states in February 1966 and was honorably discharged as I had less than a year (five months) remaining to serve on my four-year enlistment.
All in all I am proud of my father's service in World War II and value my own military experience as being influential in guiding me into a 31-year career in civilian law enforcement. Both were rewarding beyond my ability to describe.
My oldest son has followed in my footsteps, further than I walked, and is a technical sergeant (looking at his impending master stripe) in the Air Force Security Forces (formerly Air Police) and youngest son served 12 years as an Air Force firefighter/paramedic.
He was a staff sergeant upon his honorable discharge and serves on a local fire department and a local police department as a part-time officer. Both were deployed several times after 9/11 and both served in Iraq at the same time, but on different bases, one in Northern Iraq and one in Southern Iraq. I guess that qualifies us as a military family.
God bless those who have served, protect those who are serving today, and give comfort and courage to their families.