13 February 2009

Requiescat in pace

Today would have been my brother's 70th birthday. He was born in a New York City vastly different from the one we know today. FDR was president, George VI was king; Adolf Hitler was chancellor, with six months to go before he started World War II. My dad was a grad student at Columbia, working on an MS in botany; Mum was a housewife, in a day when most married women stayed at home.

He dropped out of high school when he was 17 to join the Navy - reported in to RTC Great Lakes just a couple days after my second birthday - so I didn't see much of him when I was a kid; maybe once a year he'd come home on leave for a few days. Brought us some neat presents, too - I still remember the book about Pompeii he brought us after one of his Med runs.


In Athens, 1957 - Med run aboard USS Everglades (AD 24).

He started out as an electrician's mate (EM), but then converted to interior communications electrician (IC) very shortly thereafter.


IC2 aboard ship - not sure which one.

During his career he served aboard USS Everglades (AD 24), USS New (DD 818), USS Randolph (CVS 15), USS Proteus (AS 19), USS Hoel (DDG 13) and USS Fox (DLG 33). He also did two tours on shore duty, at NTC Great Lakes and at DATC San Diego.


Aboard USS Randolph (CVS 15) - 1962.



Milwaukee, 24 Nov 1962.

He had a Navy Meritorious Unit Citation, the Navy Good Conduct Medal (x4), the National Defence Service medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal.


Visiting a boat whilst stationed on the tender - 1966.


ICC at his last reenlistment - 1973.

Not only was there a fifteen-year difference in our ages, but while he enlisted at 17, I waited until I was 27. Thus he did his twenty years (plus a two-month extension to finish a WestPac), and retired five and a half years before I enlisted. The first time I went in to see a recruiter, I talked with him for about 45 minutes; then I went home, called my brother, and spent an hour and a half discussing things with him. Then I went back to the recruiter....


With his wife and kids - an Xmas card from the late '70s.

He'd stayed in San Diego after he retired, so when I went out there for A school I stayed with him and his family, instead of in the barracks. I was amazed at how much alike we'd turned out, despite the difference in our childhoods (with him as the eldest and me as the youngest of four).

He died of a stroke in 1985, just a few days after his 46th birthday. We still miss him.


Many thanks to my niece for the photos.

5 comments:

Lawrence GIlly said...

Thank you Uncle James for remembering my dad like this and thank you for sending me this blog. I am very glad you were able to use pictures of him. I haven't seen this pictures in a long time and some of them I haven't seen, Thanks to my sister! I am 44 right now and I never thought about how old my dad would have been. I just been stuck at his 46th. Take care.

Mitali Perkins said...

Peace be with you all as you miss this dear man.

Dodi Short said...

I can't imagine losing any of my siblings to something like that. I honestly hope that if it was quick, that it may be a comfort to know that he didn't suffer nor did he have to endure humiliating debility. Instead, he was able to leave life as a vigorous man in everyone's memories.

I simply wish it had been delayed...

bless you, James
Dodi

angeliquemb9 said...

{{{Hugs}}} You know, strokes take far too many people, way too early. Richard would have been 54 on the 11th of this month. I'm glad you had the opportunity to get to know your brother. :)

Anonymous said...

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