Today is the day we put aside to honor those who serve, and have served, in our armed forces—those who have put their lives on the line to protect us and ours. While I have never served in those armed forces, quite a number of my relatives have done so.
During the Second World War, my father’s three brothers served in the US Army: Andrew, William and Charles AuBuchon. All three survived. My father wanted to enlist but the military would not take him. His first wife had died prior to Pearl Harbor and he was raising a young daughter (my half-sister Joyce) alone. He never talked about it; the story comes from others in the family.
My mother, Gladys, served in the Navy and was stationed at Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Although she never met him, a gentleman I later taught with was also stationed there while my mother was there.
One of my mother’s cousins, Clayton Roberts, perished in the Pacific as his submarine was sunk by the Japanese.
My wife’s father, FFH Charlton, served in the RAF. He was, of course, British, but flew an American B-24 Liberator.
My brother and I were in high school and college during the Viet Nam War. I still remember reporting to the Selective Service Office when I turned 18, and I still remember my eight-digit draft number. I went directly from high school graduation to college and had a 2-S – Student Deferment. At about this time they introduced lottery numbers and the one I drew (my birthday number, that is) was 342. They weren’t drafting people with numbers higher than the 100s so I dropped my deferment and was later placed in a 1-H holding category—no more worries about being drafted for me.
My best friend in college wasn’t so lucky. His number was low, and he decided to enlist in the army. He ended up being stationed at Fort Hunter Liggett, Jolon, California.
My little brother, John, had an even higher lottery number than mine—347. He, however, decided to enlist in the Air Force following a year in college. Part of the time he was stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Lompoc, California. He spent time in Viet Nam and was evacuated from Tan Son Nhut Air Base by helicopter at the end of April, 1975. Although he was not an official causality of that war, he did pick up the habit of smoking while in Viet Nam and died of lung cancer in 1991, leaving behind a widow and two young children.
Uncle Charlie, Uncle Billy, Uncle Andy, Cousin Clayton, Ferrier, Preach, Bill, John, Mom and all of the rest of you who have served—Thank You