Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 11-11-10

Veterans Day is a holiday honoring military veterans. I want to say thank you to those who served and are serving in the military. My life has been enriched by encountering men and women who have served our country. I have gained a deeper understanding by talking with them about their experiences.

I am thankful to have men in our church that fought during WWII in the thick of the battle to stop Hitler's evil genocidal machine. One gentleman in our church, Tony Utt, was on a mountain top in Italy on November 10, 1943, when a piece of shrapnel ripped through his helmet and into his skull. Tony was carried down the mountain, transported to Africa and then to the US. Six months later Tony left the hospital with a metal plate in his skull to cover the hole that the shrapnel left.

I am thankful to have a man in our church that lived in a foxhole in South Korea to help keep the aggressor of North Korea from taking over. I found out about Glenn Olomon’s service in Korea because his wife, Betty, was in the hospital and Glenn was spending the night in a chair the whole time she was there. I was a new pastor at the time and told Glenn that I admired his dedication to Betty by sleeping in the chair night after night. Glenn laughed and said it was easy because he lived in a fox hole for two years in Korea.

We have a Korean church that meets in our church on Sunday afternoons. The pastor of the Korean church drives from a larger Korean church about an hour and half away. A few years back they had an appreciation dinner for military veterans. Another year they had a dinner for Korean veterans to honor their service.   They had a nice meal, gave Korean gifts of appreciation to each of the veterans’ in honor of their military service on their behalf.

At the Korean War Memorial in DC there is stone engraved with these words: 

1950 - KOREA - 1953

My dad (3rd from the right) and four of his brothers served in the military. Two served during WW2 and two served during the Korean War. Robert was wounded at the battle of the Bulge and received the Purple Heart Award. Last week I learned that Odie, who also served during WW 2, struggled with the effects of the war for years. Curtis and Richard served during the Korean War. Curtis was a medic during the war. My dad, being the youngest, served shortly after the Korean War. The majority of his time in the Air Force was with the 57th Weather Reconnaissance. Growing up he would tell us about the time he saw the sun rise twice in the morning.

He was stationed for five months on the island of Eniwetok and was a part of operation Castle Bravo. On March 1, 1954, he witnessed a nuclear explosion that was 1,200 times more powerful than what was dropped on Japan. Bravo was the most powerful nuclear device ever detonated by the United States. The bomb was detonated on Bikini Island while he was on Eniwetok. The fallout contaminated more than seven thousand square miles of the surrounding Pacific Ocean including some of the surrounding small islands like Rongerik, Rongelap and Utirik. It would have contaminated Eniwetok but the wind had changed direction the day of the blast. My dad was not told that there had been nine nuclear detonations on Eniwetok before he arrived.

Another thing that I learned from my dad in recent days in talking about him and his brothers serving in the military was he said his mom and dad cried when he left and came home from service. They had all five of their sons return home, but many men and women did not return home.

Below are the numbers of American deaths during our major wars:

Civil War           364,511

World War I     116,516

World War II    405,399

Korean War        36,574

Vietnam              58,209

Here is another post i did regarding the miltary: Should we feel guilty for having a Memorial Day?