Monday, November 11, 2013
In Honor of Veterans Day
My dad, Don Bowling, was a warrior, and a soldier all his life. When he was a young man living in Appalachia, he worked on a farm, as a logger and as a lookout for a moonshiner. He joined the Army in Bluefield, WV in 1939.
The choice to him was simple. He didn't want to go under ground in the mines of the coalfields. He didn't want to work on the railroad like his father. He didn't want to continue farming like his grandfather and he certainly didn't want to end up in a Georgia Prison for making illegal liquor. He wanted to see the world and in the military, see the world he did.
During WWII, for the duration of the war, he served with Patton's Third Army, the 5th Division, the 50th Field artillery unit. He traveled from Iceland to the Russian front. After WWII he was discharged for a month or so and joined the Navy and served until 1970 making him a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I asked him why he joined the Navy and not rejoin the Army. He said, "I lived in fox holes for 6 years. I wanted to ride in the rear with the beer for awhile."
He told us stories upon stories. Some not so good (and those he had to be pretty drunk to even talk about). Many stories of courageous acts that were amazing of things he did and things he witnessed. So many events he was very proud of and he always loved the military. He was very proud of his service to our country. On the day he died he would have returned to military service in a heart beat if he was ever asked.
I was thinking of him this Veterans Day. I remember the problems he had when he retired out of the service. He had problems getting medical care at the VA. He had problems to just getting his G.I. Loan papers processed. Then as now, it seems that politicians like to use the Veterans and military service people as a back drop for an election, but sort of forget the men and women who serve when they are in need.
So on this Veterans Day, let us not only thank our Veterans, Military personnel or our service responders for their service and wave a flag. Let us go beyond that by advocating for their needs to be taken care of.
If you hear of a bill in Congress that would benefit our Veterans and Military that you think is a good idea, such as a jobs, housing or training bill, write your Congress People and let them know that these men and women deserve our support.
If you know of an organization that is helping Veterans and military personnel or providing a service, pull out your wallet and send them a donation.
One that I just learned about recently that is quite inspiring, is a foundation began by the actor +Gary Sinise called the Gary Sinise Foundation. He and the Lt. Dan Band are traveling in and out of the country performing shows and making a difference by raising funds and awareness for programs for our military personnel and veterans. Whatever we do, let's do more to make sure that those who have served us really are not forgotten.
Later on I will do a few blog posts using a box of memorabilia of pictures and mementos of my dad's and relate some of the stories he told me about his military service. He participated in the Battle of the Bulge, (marching 125 miles in 3 days in sub zero weather to get to those guys) and his adventures as one of the oldest flight mechanics in the Navy when he retired. This blog could go on for a few years!!
Update: I will be posting his World War II stories and possibly photos on another blog World War II Daughters. His other stories and photos of his Navy service I will post from time to time here. I'm thinking Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Flag day etc. posts.
I welcome any comments or suggestions. Thanks for reading.
I am the Appalachian Heart Wood Blogger. I am interested in saving the history of our Appalachian region as well as our placement into the future. I am a 9th generation Appalachian woman on my father's side and 11th generation on my mother's side. One grandfather is recorded in these mountains in the English records in 1753. We have been here a long, long time. Our language, our culture is celebrated yet changing. My blog called Appalachian Heart Wood is where I will expound my take on all this change and how our roots run deep in Appalachian history and culture.. I might also from time to time expound on the politics of the day in Virginia. Follow me on Twitter @AppalHeartwood