After my father passed away a couple of years ago, we were looking through some of the old photo albums my sister had found.
One of the albums was a bunch of snapshots that he’d collected from when he was serving in the military.
It was filled with pictures of him working on vehicles and goofing around with his other soldier friends.
He was in the Army immediately after the war ended…sent to Germany as part of the occupied forces.
It’s strange to imagine how a young Norwegian farm kid from Montana ended up in Germany…but there he was.
One of the pictures was kind of confusing until I heard some of the back story.
It was a picture of a big boat with swastikas painted on the side.
You don’t see many boats like that these days.
My sister said that it was Hitler’s yacht…and that the service men were able to take rides on it.
I can say that my father was invited to take a ride on Hitler’s yacht…but I’d have to make sure and explain the context, otherwise it might sound funny.
My father didn’t talk a lot about his time in the military. I remember that he used to tell this one story about a cook that they had in his unit. He said that the guy had survived the Bataan Death March…and that the Army was “taking care of him”. I guess this fellow had kind of a “funny” sense of humor…and one of the things that used to really get him laughing was to offer one of the soldiers a tablespoon of hot sauce my Dad called “mexipep” covered in a little bit of gravy. I guess that this cook got a kick out of seeing the guys sputter and run for a drink of water to put out the fire.
I suppose that there are all sorts of stories from war-time.
Some are huge and heroic…tales of battle and survival. Some are small and kind of funny.
My father’s heroism came later in his life…but that’s another story for another time.
Looking at his pictures in that album, it hits me ( like it must hit any child of a service man or woman when they get to see photos of their parent serving their country) that these people were young.
They were young men and women… just doing a job.
Some of the jobs were dangerous…some were quiet and steady…but they all added up to something big and important.
You don’t see many yachts in the harbors of the world with swastikas painted on the side these days.
On today’s Memorial Day, I’d have to say, “Thankyou” to all the people serving in the military who made it possible for me to say that.