My Dad, My Hero

Not Just a Father, My Hero Dad

this lens' photo
It has often been said that any man can be a father, but it takes a very special father to be a dad.

My Dad was very special and was always my hero.

When I was 2 years old he left to go on an assignment in Korea, and was gone for 2 years. I missed him so much that I refused to talk to anyone but my sister and that was only while we were in our room . But every man I saw who looked like him I would run up to and cry "Daddy, daddy..." My mother was at her wit's end with a daughter who was voluntarily mute. That's the term used to describe such behavior. The day he came home I started talking again. Stubborn, yes...but even then I was already "Daddy's girl".

My Father died in 2005 and I still miss him very much. When my sister and I went to fill out the paperwork for the headstone at the cemetery, they asked us what it should say, and we both immediately said "Our Hero."

This is my tribute to a true hero of our country and our family, My Hero Dad.

All Images are my own or Public Domain, except the clearly marked Posters for Sale.

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Mom and Dad on Their Wedding Day

Fort Smith, Arkansas

Mom and Dad met at Fort Smith, Arkansas when he went there for rehabilitation therapy for his arm that had been nearly severed in World War II. She was an Army nurse but they actually met at the Officer’s Club. It was love at first sight, so they got married a month, a week, and a day after they met. Dad had said that they would get married when they saved enough money for a honeymoon, so they had actually planned for it to happen later. But Dad was playing poker with his buddies and won $800 which in those days was more than enough to pay for a nice honeymoon, so they took that as a sign and went ahead and tied the knot. Here is a picture of them on their wedding day.

Poem for a Soldier

My Hero Dad was One

It’s the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us the freedom of the press.

It’s the Soldier, not the poet,
Who has given us the freedom of speech.

It’s the Soldier, not the politicians
That ensures our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness..

It’s the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag.

~Charles M. Province, © 1970, 2005

Dutiful Son

My Hero Dad As a 3 Year Old

This picture is my Dad when he was 3. What a little cutie!

My Grandfather died when I was 11. His estate was complicated and my Grandmother was too distraught to handle it by herself so she begged my Father to ask the Army to let him move closer to help her. I am sure she had no idea what she was asking of him. He was told he would never be promoted again if he did that because the only thing close by that he could do was act as a recruiter in a small town in Southeast Kansas close to where she lived.

So we went there for the last 2 years of his Army career, and true to their word, the Army passed him over for promotion. He did not care. But my Mother was incensed and wrote the Commander in Chief. How dare they? This man had served in 2 wars and had a Silver Star for God’s sake. How ridiculous!

Dad just said if he had to do it all over again, he would still choose to help his mother. He was just sorry it hurt us, his family, because it meant less money. Dad never cared at all about all his awards, and truthfully, I never even knew about them until my Mother started a scrapbook about him. Dad was very humble and did not think awards define a man…he said his daily actions defined him.

Once I asked him why he never talked about his war experiences or his medals and he said he had just been doing his job as a good soldier and that those things were not that important, and that he would rather we remember him as a good father, a good husband, a good golfer, and a funny guy!

That was Dad, always humble and self-effacing.

Family Man

My Hero Dad Was One

My Dad was always willing to take me anywhere at any time. Once when I was in college he drove me the 90 miles back to my dorm after a visit. We always stopped on the way for an ice cream treat as that was our favorite thing to do together…eat ice cream. So it took him 2 hours to get there and another hour and a half to get back home.

When he walked in the phone rang and he picked it up. On the other end of the line was my sister Mary and all she said was “Daddy will you come pick me up?” He said “ok, honey” and she hung up. My sisters and my Mother and I all sounded alike on the phone so he thought it was me. He walked out to the garden to tell my Mother he had to go back to Austin to get me and she asked why. “I don’t know” he said, “but she just called and wants me to pick her up.” My Mother started laughing her head off. “That wasn’t Heather…” she said, “That was Mary! She’s over at the church and said she would need a ride home.” Everyone had a good laugh over that incident, and of course Dad was relieved his trip would be shorter than 3 more hours.

But what always struck me about it was that he did not hesitate for one minute to say yes he would drive 3 more hours to come get me and bring me back home with no questions asked, after he had already spent 3 and a half hours in the car. That was Dad, always happy to take me wherever I needed to go.

Honest Mechanic

Here He is When He Was 5 Years Old

Besides his never ending chauffeur duties, Dad also took care of all our cars all his life. His Father owned gas stations and was a great mechanic; he passed on his knowledge to my Father. So Dad always did all the car care in our family, even when we were gone and married. I would call him and describe the problem on any car I had, and he would tell me exactly what was wrong. More than once I would tell a mechanic what he said and they would marvel at the accuracy of his assessment.

Army Intelligence

I Know, I Know, It's an Oxymoron...

Dad worked in the Intelligence area of the Army. He was an Infantry man, but he was very smart, and spoke Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Farsi. Obviously that came in very handy to the Army, and they sent him to schools to become a Middle Eastern Specialist…which is why we lived in Europe when I was young. Amazingly after all the stuff the Army had done to him, when asked to work for them again after his retirement, he did. He continued to work at Fort Sam Houston at Fourth Army Headquarters for another 20 years before he finally retired again so he could play golf full time. But at least he got to have the job on his own terms this time, and for the rest of his life Dad got to live in one city and travel the world, playing golf and enjoying a great lifestyle.

In this photo, Dad is dressed in Military Dress Blues with all his ribbons, which represent medals awarded for excellence.


My Hero Dad Was One

Dad had been playing golf since I was 11 and doctors told him he should not work so hard and should take some time off and get a hobby. He took to it right away, and was so good that after he retired and had time to play 5 days a week, he considered going on tour. Our family often played miniature golf and he always won. I never ever saw him miss a putt, ever!

One of his greatest days came when he finally got his hole in one! From then on he was known as Ace by all his friends. I think he really enjoyed his Hole In One Trophy more than all those war medals combined.

Life Without Mom

My Hero Dad

They say that disease is really hard on the caregiver and that they often get ignored. That is certainly true in my Father’s case. My Mother was ill for the last 5 years of her life, and everyone was so worried about her and her care that no one really noticed that Dad was having problems walking. He gladly cut back on his golf games to help her with her medical needs, and never complained.

But I began to notice he walked with a shuffle and was not his usual spry self. A few months before she died he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. So this man who had survived 2 wars and 23 wounds ended up dying of a horrible disease. I tried to bring him to live with me but he would not hear of it. He wanted to be near my Mother’s grave so he could go visit her. Even in his hardest battle, he was thinking about her.

I am so lucky to be my Father’s daughter and he will always be my hero.

The following are some of the Major Medals
my Father earned.
He also had many others, including several
from foreign governments.

The Silver Star~My Hero Dad Had One

For Conspicuous Gallentry in Action

The Silver Star Medal is the United States’ THIRD HIGHEST award exclusively for combat valor, and ranks fifth in the precedence of military awards behind the Medal of Honor, the Crosses (DSC/NC/AFC), the Defense Distinguished Service Medal (awarded by DOD), and the Distinguished Service Medals of the various branches of service. It is the highest award for combat valor that is NOT unique to any specific branch; it has been bestowed by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marines. It may be given by any one of the individual services to not only their own members, but to members of other branches of service, foreign allies, and even to civilians for “gallantry in action” in support of combat missions of the United States military.

Because the Silver Star is ONLY awarded for combat valor, the only devices worn on it are:

Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters in lieu of additional Army/AF awards
Silver Oak Leaf Clusters in lieu of a SIXTH Army/AF award
Gold Star in lieu of additional Navy/USMC awards
Silver Star in lieu of a SIXTH Navy/USMC award.
(Seven Awards of the Silver Star then, would be displayed on the ribbon as a Silver OLC and 1 Bronze OLC for Army or Air Force. For Navy/Marine Corps Awards it would be a Silver Star plus 1 Gold Star.)

The Silver Star was established by President Woodrow Wilson as a “Citation Star” during World War I, and was solely a U.S. Army award, though it was presented by the War Department (U.S. Army) to members of the Navy and to U.S. Marines. (More on that can be found in the introductory pages to WWI awards.) On February 22, 1932, the date that would have been George Washington’s 200th birth day, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur revived General Washington’s “Badge for Military Merit (1782)” as the Purple Heart. That same year he also successfully advocated for conversion of the “Citation Star”. When his recommendation was approved by the Secretary of War, the 3/16′ silver star was converted from a ribbon device” to a full-fledged MEDAL.

The Silver Star Medal was designed by Rudolf Freund of Bailey, Banks and Biddle. The ribbon design incorporated the colors of the flag, and closely resembled the medals earliest predecessor, the Certificate of Merit Medal. The reverse of the medal is blank, save for the raised text “For Gallantry in Action”, beneath which is usually engraved the name of the recipient.

The gold hue of the gilt-bronze star seems at odds with the award’s name, Silver Star. That title derives from the medal’s World War I lineage and the 3/6″ silver star, once displayed on a victory ribbon, and now prominently displayed in the center of the medal.

We estimate that the number of Silver Stars awarded World War I to present is somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000. While that number seems quite large, when compared to the more than 30 million American men and women who have served in uniform during that time period, it is obvious that the Silver Star is a rare award, bestowed on fewer than 1 in every 250 veterans of military service.

~from Heroes in Action, which also lists all the known holders of the Silver Star Medal.

The Bronze Star~My Hero Dad Had Two

For Heroic or Meritorious Achievement of Service

My father had 2 of these medals.

Given for heroic or meritorious achievement of service, not involving aerial flight in connection with operations against an opposing armed force.

Authorized on February 4, 1944 the Bronze Star Medal is awarded to members of all branches of military service and may be awarded either for combat heroism or for meritorious service.

The bronze “V” identifies the award as resulting from an act of combat heroism or “VALOR”, thus distinguishing it from meritorious achievement awards.

(Army/AF) A Bronze OLC is worn for subsequent awards.
(Navy/USMC/CG) A Gold Star is worn for each subsequent award.

(Army/AF) A Silver Oak Leaf is worn in lieu of 5 Bronze.
(Navy/USMC/CG) A Silver Star is worn in lieu of 5 Gold.

~from Heroes in Action

The Purple Heart~My Hero Dad Had Twenty-Three

For Being Wounded in Battle Against an Enemy

My Father had 23 major wounds and lots of minor ones. The worst wound was a nearly severed left arm. He was hit by sniper fire in World War II in Germany and it nearly ripped his arm apart. For the rest of his life he had to do constant exercises to keep the muscles from atrophying. He did this mostly so he could play golf, I think. The doctors had originally wanted to amputate…but he refused.

The Purple Heart

Awarded for wounds or death as result of an act of any opposing armed force, as a result of an international terrorist attack or as a result of military operaitons while serving as part of a peacekeeping force.

The oldest of our military awards, the predecessor for the Purple Heart was George Washington’s “Badge of Military Merit” (1782). Washington’s award was resurected in 1932 as the Purple Heart and is awarded to any person wounded in action while serving in any of our Armed Forces. It is also presented posthumously to the next of kin of personnel killed in action or who die of wounds sustained in action.

~from Heroes in Action

Things My Father Taught Me
By Example

We're Still at War

Here's What My Hero Dad Said About the Middle East Wars of Aggression

My Father fought in 2 wars, World II under Patton and MacArthur, and the Korean Conflict. (As an aside, he worked directly under General MacArthur in his office in Japan and knew him well. He also knew General Eisenhower, as he was known then. Since Dad was in Army Intelligence, he was in contact with all the higher level Generals.) He was not opposed to war on moral grounds but he was opposed to wars that do not directly benefit the United States. He told me that wars should be defensive maneuvers if attacked, not offensive ones to provoke. And he also told me that if leaders of countries and politicians had to actually do the fighting instead of the poor soldiers who do, there would be many less wars.

Dad was a Middle Eastern Specialist in the Army, and he was extremely opposed to our fighting in the MIddle East, calling it a ridiculous waste of our country’s precious resources and one that would be of no benefit to us. I remember him telling me that invading Iraq would be one of the biggest mistakes the United States ever made, and that the same goes for Afghanistan. He said that it was one thing to protect ourselves (like when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor) or to help people who were attacked, like Europe, against Hitler, but it is an entirely different thing to invade foreign countries who have not attacked us. Such action always has a reaction…sometime somewhere. And besides, we cannot afford it! We should be saving our money and our military resources by training them here at home so they can protect us and be ready if we need them to help a country who is being invaded.

Dad said: “Always ask: For whose benefit?” And I say: ” Always. Follow. the. Money.”
An Eagle Among His Only Human Peers

My Hero Dad Rests In a Cemetery Such as This

With my Wonder Woman Mom who was an Army Nurse Veteran. You can read about her at My Wonder Woman Mom.
Photo is a Public Domain Image.
Poem for a Soldier Who Died Today
© A. Lawrence Vaincourt 1985, Reprinted By Permission

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And ‘tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer,
For ol’ Bob has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won’t be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won’t note his passing,
‘Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician’s stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier–
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simply headline
In the paper that might say:

Thank You for Visiting My Tribute to My Father

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