Diligent in studies, life
Dad was a pre-World War II father and as such was not the earliest to enlist. When he did and started his training, he was diligent because he wanted to come home to his family. When the other boys completed their day and headed to the bars, he stayed and continued his studies.
This diligence paid off many times during his flights as a radio operator on a C-47 in the China-Burma-India Theater, transporting Chinese troops and equipment.
He has told me many stories about forwarding messages to other radio operators who could not get their radios tuned properly to get emergency messages. This was a dangerous area, known as "flying the Hump."
He came home and continued being the best he could be as a father, not only to our family but many others as a Boy Scout leader, baseball coach, church leader and many other areas. Today he is close to 101 and still a concerned and viable individual, enjoying life as best he can after losing his wife of 79 years. He was truly a part of the "Greatest Generation."
WAYNE E. CALHOUN JR.
Owe much to military
My father, George Bradley, is a World War II veteran so I always look forward to Veterans Day and acknowledging his contributions, as well as the ways the service benefited him, such as the GI Bill, which helped fund his education.
Regardless of what war a veteran served in (and I am thinking especially of the hugely divisive Vietnam war), or whether a service member has seen any active duty at all, they are all worthy of our great thanks for helping protect our homeland and ideals, often at great personal cost to themselves and their families. All service members are someone's child, sibling, spouse or parent, and often all of those. Their entire family endures periods of separation and risk of injuries or death to their loved one.
The best way we can honor our service members is to elect politicians who do not act rashly or incite violence and conflict with their words, so that our service members are not put in harm's way unless there is a very strong justification. We as a society owe them a better group of decision-makers and mouthpieces than the current bunch in Washington.
SUSAN BRADLEY POSPISIL
A generous gesture
On Oct. 28, my husband and I had lunch at our favorite west Little Rock cafe, where we go regularly.
When our server brought our check she informed us that another patron had paid it, much to our surprise. She told us that he (?) had already left, and she did not know his name.
So, whoever you are, thank you very much for a very kind, generous gesture. We feel the only way to properly thank you is to "pass it on."
War stayed with them
He arrived at Parris Island on VJ Day. At one of the train stops on the way, a USO woman called out to the new recruits, "Y'all might as well go home, it's all over." When they mustered on the parade grounds, the Marine commander told them, "You may think the war is over, but there are Japs on all those islands and we still have to find them." Decades later he told me about the recruit who pulled the rifle trigger with his toe because he just couldn't take it anymore.
He never saw action outside the U.S. as a Marine. He graduated the Naval Academy, class of '51, but now wearing glasses could no longer be a Marine. He won the Air Force lottery. He was soon on Guam and then to Korea, providing intelligence for a South African fighter group. A dark day when one of their number shot down a Marine fighter in a case of mistaken identity.
He was part of the team that put together the photos and information during the Cuban Missile Crisis. He battled with computer nerds who just could not seem to understand what the Air Force wanted the SR-71 to do. He volunteered for Vietnam, but with the arrival of a new child asked for a deferral to help care for her. He took his family to Guam where he ran the B-52 Operation Menu (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for two years. Did Ken Burns mention it in his film? He then spent his year in Vietnam running operations Ken Burns did talk about. He chased the Viet Cong and decades later when he talked to me about what happened to those brave souls after the North Vietnamese pushed them aside, I thought he might shed a tear. He spent the rest of his career in the Cold War.
My dad's not living anymore; he, like two others I knew, a Vietnam and a Korean vet, all took their lives. The things they knew, the things they saw, stayed with them for decades even though they had good lives, families and did great things for their communities. We have no idea what we make them give.
They've earned honor
In the long list of fallen soldiers from Arkansas since 2003, one name speaks to me--Army PFC Jonathan M. Cheatham, 19, from Camden. I did not know this young man personally, but he was a comrade of my son and his then-fiancée in the 489th Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve. It was their first deployment to Iraq and just three months in, their camp in Baghdad was attacked, and PFC Cheatham lost his life. My heart still grieves for him.
I do not begin to understand all that is involved and why after almost 15 years we are still engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, although my son, now serving his third deployment to Iraq, has tried to explain it to me. I do know and understand that all people have the right to live free no matter what country they live in.
Those of us who remain here at home cannot possibly know the horrors, the loneliness, and the sadness that our men and women experience during deployment to these war-torn countries. Some return with broken bodies and broken spirits. Some lose their faith in God and in themselves. And some return for burial.
As my son and others continue to serve in the United States military in various branches here at home and around the world, let us be thankful for them and the veterans from past conflicts--they all are our sons, our brothers in this blessed place we call freedom. Let us honor them--not just on Veterans Day, but every day. They have earned it. And let us not forget to pray for them and their families. We are all in this together as Arkansans and as Americans.
Editorial on 11/12/2017
Print Headline: Letters