96th Infantry Division Deadeyes Asssociation

 A Granddaughter Remembers 
 
  Growing up I always knew that my grandfather had served during World War II. It was Just one of those things in school where I raised my hand when we were learning about the war and the teacher asked how many of us had relatives who served. But I never knew any more than that - I never knew where he was or what he did - he just never talked about it much - and I didn't know if I should ask.

   I remember one time they visited while I was in high school. We had a globe out and Grandpa started tracing the places where he had been during the war. It was the first I had ever heard him talk about that time. I was just starting to get interested myself in the military and I found it fascinating to hear all the places he had been.

   Years later, it was while I was at the Navy Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida that I learned a little more about what my grandfather had done during that time so long ago.  I opened an envelope from him to find a letter and newspaper clipping describing how he had participated in an oral history project at his old high school. He had met with two students and talked to them about his days serving his country during the war. Also enclosed was a photocopy of a letter he had found after doing the interview. This was a letter he had written to his mother describing to her the reaction in the streets of Honolulu, Hawaii on VJ day. He was on leave from the hospital in Oahu Island when the sirens and celebration began. Sitting there in my room with my desk littered with the t-shirts and brass buckles I needed to get ready for inspection, it was inspiring to read about an experience so long ago. As I read his words to his mother that included the line "and if my future grandchildren should ever read this ...  They connected me to history and a part of my past In a way I couldn't have predicted Just as I was setting out on an adventure that could lead me to be a part of history in the making. Little did I know how much - 12 days after my commissioning as an Ensign in the United States Navy was September 11, 2001.

   My first tour was with an F/A-18 Hornet squadron attached to the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75). While Operation Enduring Freedom had been underway for a couple of years, as we set sail for our deployment in December of 2003 we saw another possible threat in our future. With me in my stateroom was my copy of Grandpa's story of his World War II experience. Some nights during the beginning days of Operation Iraqi Freedom when I was completely exhausted, I would go back to my stateroom and re-read my grandfather's memoirs. As I sat there listening to the jets take off above my head with bombs on their wings I was again suspended between the history of the past and the history in the making. Through my grandfather's words I felt overwhelming pride for what he and his fellow Soldiers. Sailors and Airmen were doing - and was honored to be part of another generation following in their footsteps.

Grandpa's rnemoirs have traveled with me on each-deployment since then.

   During my current, assignment in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, I was participating in an exercise In Japan, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor day. Since those of us In Japan could not experience the memorials that were taking place back home in Hawaii, I brought out my Grandfather's memoirs as a way that I could honor those who served during that time. Many of those who were participating 'in the exercise with me read his words that December 7th and we all felt the connection and honor of those great servicemen and women.

   My greatest honor was having my grandparents fly out here to Hawaii and visit my husband and me. Having seen many of the World War II memorials around the island, one day we traveled over the Pali Pass and tried to find the location where Grandpa had lived and trained before joining the "fight across the Pacific".  Grandpa had with him a photograph of him ln the "tent city". In the background were the ridges of the Pali mountain range. Sixty years after that photo was taken, I again feft suspended between the past and present as we stood on.a golf course now in that location and my husband took a photograph of my grandfather standing there with that same mountain ridge behind him.