One night last week we were watching television and my wife turned to me and out of the “clear blue” said: “It makes me very angry when I think of all the people who have sacrificed for this country and now the Constitution is being ignored by elected officials and our freedom is being lost and we don’t seem to be able to do anything about it! I never thought we would come to this.”
For a moment I was speechless. During the 27 years she was an Army wife, she rarely complained. She understood that we were doing our patriotic duty and military wives who stay with their husbands until the end frequently sacrifice more than their husbands. If we look around us today, some of the strongest, bold, patriotic women are wives or children of active or retired military personnel or veterans. They have been tested and passed muster.
LaVerle was not thinking of military wives sacrificing when she made the comment, she was thinking about the military personnel who voluntarily gave the best years of their lives serving their country in uniform. Some gave their blood, limbs, eyes and sometimes their lives to preserve freedom for people they did not know and for their friends and families back home.
Not unlike the typical military wife, there was plenty she could have complained about.
Due to arbitrary bureaucratic rules, we were unable to travel together to Germany and she traveled alone with an 18-month old child. She weighed about 100 pounds at the time and Tim, our first child, weighed almost half that much and she was carrying him. It was a 26 hour flight on a prop plane from New Jersey to Frankfurt with one seat available for both, followed by a six hour train ride to Bremerhaven. The plane could not make an intermediate stop due to weather, and ran out of food. She gave all her snacks to our son and other hungry crying children on the plane and had nothing to eat for more than 30 hours. No one on the train spoke English and she had to change trains in Hanover. It was February 1956 and very cold. I met her at the train station in Bremerhaven late at night. The next morning she was admitted to the hospital and on IV’s for dehydration and exhaustion for the next two days and nights.
Midway in the three-year tour, I was transferred from Bremerhaven to a tank battalion in Hanau. We loaded two small children and all we could pile in and on our 1950 ford. We arrived late on Saturday afternoon. The Battalion adjutant met us, issued my field gear and escorted us to our residence about 10 miles away. The company commander picked me up about 4 p.m. on Sunday. I said a hasty goodbye to LaVerle and the boys and left them in a strange place in a foreign country not knowing a single person within hundreds of miles and not knowing where anything was located. They did not see me again for 6 weeks.
Our third child was born prematurely and dead due to the government testing dangerous drugs on unsuspecting military wives. Other women lost their babies and some were born with terrible deformities due to the drug. Shortly after losing the child, I was sent to Korea for 13 months leaving a wife with two young children in South Carolina.
When our youngest child was 7 he was in Tripler Hospital overnight for observation due to a stomach ache. A large incision was made across his stomach so surgical students could see, and his normal appendix removed because the chief surgeon had a surgical class scheduled and did not want to cancel it and our child was the only training aid available.
When we honor those who serve and sacrifice in uniform, let us never forget the spouses and other family members who sacrifice without fanfare and frequently without acknowledgement. They must sacrifice their freedom in exchange for government services.
Bob Dill, Publisher
Remembering Those Who Sacrificed That We Remain Free
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