A Veteran’s Story

In 1942, three GI’s on their way to a base in Spokane, Washington missed their train. They all chipped in for a taxi and took it across town to another station, where they boarded another westbound train.

One of the GI’s spotted an attractive young woman sitting with her mother in the same car. Being an enterprising sort, he went over and asked her if she would help him with his crossword puzzle. She said sure, and he sat down. When he did, she saw he had written something in big block letters across the top of the puzzle page. It was his name.

They exchanged addresses before they got off the train and corresponded for the better part of the year. After that, the GI went to North Dakota to visit her and proposed marriage on the third day he was there. She accepted.

The next time they met – only the third time they had ever been together – was when the young lady traveled out to Fort George Wright in Spokane, Washington, where he taught explosives ordinance to Army Air Force personnel, to marry him. This was in 1942.

By 1945, the Army Air Force reassigned the GI. They sent him to tail gunner school. When he finished, he got his orders to ship out to the Pacific to fight the Japanese. So he got on another train.

When he arrived at his destination, the war was over. President Harry Truman had dropped something called an Atomic Bomb on the enemy and it forced their surrender.

As you may have guessed, this is the story of how my parents met, and how my father narrowly missed seeing action from the most dangerous position in a bomber.

The marriage was just like the movies, too. It lasted 45 years, until my father died in 1988, missing both the birth of my daughter and my second novel by about six weeks.

This just goes to show you that God can make good things come out of the worst evil. Some say Hitler should never have been born. But if it weren’t for the ripples he caused in his mad quest, I wouldn’t be here writing these words. And as much as people excoriate the atomic bomb, if it hadn’t been for Truman’s brave decision, I might not be here, either.

Even the worst times can bring out the best in men, who make difficult decisions and then go out and do what is right. The same kinds of tough decisions we’re looking at today.

These are my thoughts for Veteran’s Day. And this is why I get misty eyed as vets lead the Memorial Day parade, and why I shout out “Thank you” to them as they pass by, and why I thank people for serving their country, sometimes in odd ways.

So to any Veterans who happen to be reading this: Thank You. Thank you all for serving, and for making difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions that preserve the Republic.

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