I know quite a few people from the military. Some were like my father and uncles who joined up because no way were they going to college. Some other joined because they wanted a career and were surprised as hell when we actually had wars. Others joined when Korea was going on and then there was my great uncle Buddy.
He was my grandfather’s brother and a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne. He was actually a Pathfinder, which meant he jumped before everyone else on D-Day so the rest of the guys would have something to aim at. The only other things I ever knew about him were:
- He got his lung shot out in the war. I still don’t know exactly what that means but when I was little I assumed the bullet knocked his lung out of his body (and it somehow looked like a cartoon turkey leg).
- He jumped one place at night in a dangerous spot and there were these things called hedge rows which apparently have giant thorns in them and are super tall. It was a long time ago so I don’t remember exactly how it all went down, but apparently it was like this: some guys landed in the hedge rows and they were stuck with all the thorns and they were too high up to get out and they couldn’t stop screaming so their own guys had to shoot them. Now, it always seemed to me that gun shots would be louder than screams but I also have to believe that if you had to shoot a guy you were just sitting next to on a plane a few minutes earlier the circumstances must have been dire.
But the most famous veteran I am even tangentially connected with is Charles Loring. I went to school with his grandson (we called him Booger, the grandson, not the grandfather) and he was a bona-fide bad ass (the grandfather, not Booger). From Wikipedia (emphasis mine):
During a patrol on November 22, 1952, Loring was leading a flight of F-80 Shooting Stars of the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron in an attack on a Chinese artillery position. During the run, his aircraft was struck by intense and accurate anti aircraft fire. Rather than abort the mission, Loring continued his diving run, aiming his disabled aircraft at the position and obliterating it, killing himself in the process. After his death, Loring was awarded the Medal of Honor and made the namesake of Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.
Let that sink in. Dude used his plane as a bomb. And back in the ’90s when George Mitchell was the Senate Majority Leader FROM MAINE he let Loring Air Force Base get closed down as a show of bipartisanship. It was the closest base we had to Russia (yes, it was in Limestone, Maine and was the closest base we had to Russia) and it still got closed. That still bugs me. I wish my friend’s grandfather would get his name on something else. Like the Loring-45000 drone that looks like a plane but is actually just a bad ass bomb.
So when I think of Veterans Day I think of Booger’s grandfather and my Uncle Buddy. My father not so much. The only thing that ever happened to him that I know of was that his ship sank, which you would think would be a cool story. Maybe it is. I never heard anymore than that about anything really. He was a plane who turned into a bomb!
Thank you, veterans. I am not going to call you heroes because everyone I know who served gets pissed when they are called that because they know real ones. Just because you are a selfish soft weakling (like me) doesn’t make your friend the marine a hero. It makes him or her normal and you less than normal. You calling them heroes just makes you think you are better than you are. Charles Loring was a hero. Get it right.