Friday, January 15, 2010

Then and Now

I've been thinking the past day or two about what I should write about next. I could have written about things related to Ovarian Cancer research or the bra color statuses on Facebook. But I kept coming back to my father's time in the Army during World War II and my son-in-law's recent deployment to Iraq.

My father, Robert, served in the Army during World War II. He enlisted in 1942 and was trained at Fort Lee , Va as a plumber and pipe fitter. After a short stint in California he was off to build sanitation facilities - toilets, outdoor showers and water drinking water lines which were very important components of the bases throughout the Pacific theater. He spent some of his time in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, the Phillipines and a number of smaller islands like Goodenough Island. My father's brother ,Mike, also served during World War II. I have Uncle Mike's footlocker which contains well over 50 letters, postcards and Western Union Telegrams that were written to or by my father while he was overseas.

He traveled by train from Virginia to California and then by ship to the different stops in the Pacific. He spent weeks on a ship traveling to each assignment. In most cases the only way to communicate with a loved one who were serving in the military overseas was through letters mailed to an APO address. I noticed that my Aunt Dora sent most of the letters and typed them on a typewriter. The letters took weeks to catch up with my dad and included news about the family and the house on Fairmont Avenue in Newark. Sometimes the letters crossed paths so the exchange was very disjointed. The letters also contained questions about how the war was going. Some of the letters my dad wrote were censored- with words and sentences blacked out. At home they never really knew where he was located. For music, my father had a LP record player made out of metal that you had to assemble and wind up to play the few records he had with him. He also had a film camera, I don't know what type, but it took the tiny 2" square photos that I am trying to organize as I straighten things in my basement. My dad was discharged on Dec 2, 1945 as a staff- sergeant.

A week ago Andy,my son-in-law, a captain in the Army, deployed to Iraq with the 1st Infantry Division Headquarters out of Fort Riley, Kansas. Unlike my dad who went my train and ship ,he flew from Topeka, Kansas to Bangor ,Maine to a stop in Europe and after a total of 22 hours, he landed in Kuwait on his way to Iraq. At the various stops the USO gave soldiers in his unit cell phones to make free phone calls home. Before they deployed each soldier was given an AT&T phone card. Andy was able to bring his iPod loaded with his favorite music, a digital camera and a small laptop. From the base in Iraq thanks in part to the USO, he will be able to watch satellite TV, e-mail and call home. He can also get a coffee at Green Beans Coffee and visit a Subway or Burger King on base.

It is difficult today like it was over 65 years ago to have a family member deployed but I am so thankful that communication is easier and quicker. I am thankful too for a Facebook page provided by the Family Readiness Group at Fort Riley that provides support for the families while there soldier is deployed.

I will still write letters and send packages the old fashion way to his APO address but I will also be able to stay in touch by e-mail. I am proud of my son-in-law and pray that all the soldiers in his unit return home safely.

Every Day is a Blessing!

1 comment:

Theresa said...

I know I haven't said much about it - but thanks for being around when Andy left. It meant a lot. Hope I can see you again soon. Plus Silvio misses you.