The Last 48

My mother in law likes to watch the television show, “The First 48” and that is where I got the idea for this post.

In 48 hours, we will be signing the papers to sell our home. Technically, the house is ours until the papers are presented to the government office responsible for keeping track of property ownership records, and this will happen on Tuesday morning. So, technically this is “the last 72”.

Since we will be leaving as soon as we sign the papers, I will go with the reality, and not the technicality.

I had “khaki diapers”…also known as a “marine brat”. The “brat” part was part of the vernacular (I hope I wasn’t a real brat) referring to children of US Marines. My father was marine officer and moves were a normal occurrence. For me, I was born toward the end of my father’s 30 year career in the marines and I only moved seven times in the first 18 years of my life.

Since then I sort of settled down, 10 years in one place, 10 years in another place and 23 years in the current home.

I’m hoping that we can live at least that long in the new place we are buying.

A Story From My Father

December 8, 1941, around 4am, Cornado Island, near San Diego, California.

The entire day before and through the night, marines were preparing as quickly as possible for a possible invasion of San Diego; Concertina wire was spread across the beach, machine guns emplaced, foxholes dug, mortars emplaced, field telephone wire strung, ammunition stockpiled. He said on reflection it probably wouldn’t have done much against an all-out invasion attempt, but it was the best that could be done at the time. And, like he always told me, “You prepare for the worst as best as you can….and hope for the best.”

At 4am, in the heavy fog, a strange tapping was heard coming from behind their lines. The marines were tense and especially so because the visibility was near zero. Pistols and rifles were trained toward the noise. Dad, by then a corporal, very quietly, “Hold Fire. Hold Fire.” to the marines around him. He had decided that if anyone was trying to sneak up on them, they wouldn’t be making so much noise.

The tapping was getting louder and louder. Soon, they saw that the noise was coming from a red tipped white cane. A blind man was out for an early morning walk. Everyone suddenly went back to their “normal” tenseness.

“Sir. You need to go home. You’re in amongst a bunch of very nervous marines. I’ll have someone escort you so you don’t get shot.”

Then and Then

Birthday1966aBirthday2003a

There are 37 years between the two pictures.  The black and white one was taken in 1966 by my grandfather and I took the color one in 2003.    Coming as no surprise to any Marines reading this, the dates of the pictures are November 10.

My dad enlisted as a private in 1934 and retired as a major in 1964.  He was on active duty for a bit over a month more than 30 years, so the time between these two pictures is longer than he was on active duty.

He looks a bit tired in the second picture, and so does mom, but that’s OK.  When the latter picture was taken, he was 90 years old and she was 85, so they’re entitled to look a bit tired.

Dad’s “PCS Heaven” orders arrived about 8 months after the latter picture was taken and mom’s followed 13 years later.  Since mom was in the navy, I’m sure she’s noticed that the streets of heaven are guarded by United States Marines.

 

More Dad Pictures

dad_pvt

Here are some more pictures of my dad.  I remember him telling me about this one.  He said the day before he finished boot camp, everyone was marched “home” where they got cleaned up and then donned just the uniform blouse and cover for pictures.  They then put the uniform back into their foot locker and went back to training.   He said the next day was the first time they were allowed to wear the full uniform.

So, this picture was taken in October 1934 when he was 21 years old.  He started boot camp in March, but was held back for 3 months because of a severe arm infection.

 

 

dad_gsgt

I’m guessing this picture was taken sometime in 1944.  He would have been 31 years old.

 

Dad.

dad_captI was going through my parents’ stuff that I had taken to a climate controlled storage unit and I found dad’s “brand new captain” picture.

Dad enlisted in the marines in 1934, was commissioned in 1950 and was promoted to major two years before he retired in 1964.

He is now guarding the streets of heaven.  He was 91.