I was with my 25 year old son when he died..... It was the hardest, most traumatic thing I have ever experienced... but if my voice telling him that I loved him was the last thing he heard, it was a Blessing.
Excuse me while I dry my eyes...
Best Posts in Thread: Serious Random Posts
Page 1 of 2
MAY 7, 1945 Okinawa. One of the most heartbreaking photos from the Second World War shows US Marine Colonel Francis Fenton (pictured kneeling) conducting the funeral of his son Private First Class Mike Fenton, near Shuri, Okinawa, May 1945. Father and son met once during the fighting when their paths crossed at a partially destroyed Okinawan farmhouse. After exchanging news the two family members returned to their work. They would never talk again. On May 7, 1945, while beating back a Japanese counterattack the younger Fenton, 19, was killed.
When his father received the bitter news, he traveled to the site of his son's death and knelt down to pray over the flag-draped body. Upon arising, Colonel Fenton stared at the bodies of other Marine dead and said: 'Those poor souls. They didn't have their fathers here'
- Like x 14
The most-deserved belt in history was given to Bridger Walker the little boy who saved his little sister from a German shepherd dog. He had 90 stitches all over his body, but saved his three-year-old sister from certain death. And had stated ′′ If anyone has to die, it's me, I'm the big brother." The World Boxing Council (WBC) recognized him as a full-time world champion. He has the official WBC historical record, of being the best fighter in the world for one day.
I spent 2 1/2 years on a ceremonial squad as an additional duty. I went kicking and screaming as nearly all details were at night or on weekends. We presented the colors at ballgames, civic activities, etc. We donned dress blues and traveled in school buses with no A/C. The reward was the groups always gave us plenty to drink and we got laid a few times.
Then I moved over to the funeral detail....either as pallbearer or rifle detail doing 21 gun salutes. Did one where we presented a flag to the oldest son who might have been all of 8 years old. All of us tough Marines had tears streaming down our face and fought hard not to lose it altogether as taps played and that child struggled to be the “man of the house”. A Marine funeral is as solemn as it gets and often very emotional.
I buried many Marines and it was the honor of my life.
Good thread. Great story. I was holding my brother's hand when he died. He was 44 yrs old so he lived some life and some would say he lived it fairly fast. He was a veteran. About 10 yrs after he died a boy called me asking to speak to "Brad". He was Kevin to me but I knew it was someone he met after he changed high schools. This "boy" had been in the army with Kevin and wanted to express his gratitude for my brother's guidance, friendship and help back then. I had to tell him Kevin was gone. Still miss my little brother.
In times of war, fathers bury their sons.
Colonel Fenton knew he had been given a bitter gift, but a gift all the same - the opportunity to say goodbye.
Many thousands of fathers would never have the opportunity to do so.
This guy is good. Sometimes great. I thought this was great. I get one each day in my email.
SEAN DIETRICH MAY 8, 2021
He sat alone in a breakfast joint. He was old, wearing wrinkled clothes, with white stubble on his chin, like he forgot to shave. He was doing a crossword puzzle.
When I am old, I will forget to shave and do crosswords.
He wore a Navy ball cap with scrambled-egg embellishments on the bill, his reading glasses on his nose.
Buck Owens was overhead singing “Together Again.”
I pulled up a stool beside him. Socially distanced, of course. We micro-smiled at each other. The waitress handed me a menu, I gave it back and replied, “Three eggs, sunny, and bacon, please.”
The old guy and I exchanged another formal grin. Minutes went by. He broke the ice first. “Where’s home, fella?”
When I am old, I will call strangers fella.
I jerked a thumb behind me. “About three hours that way. You?”
He laughed. “Nineteen hours in the other direction. On vacation with my kids in Crawfordville this week.” He looked at me over his readers. “Had to get outta the condo, my granddaughters were driving me insane.”
The waitress refilled his mug. The man used six packets of sugar in his coffee.
I will someday use six packets of sugar.
The inscription on his ballcap caught my eyes, it read: “Navy Chaplain Corps.”
I pointed to his hat. “Bet I can guess what you did for a living.”
The man smiled. “Yep. I’m an inactive chaplain—there’s no such thing as a retired chaplain.”
“So, how’d you get into the business of saving Navy souls?”
He laughed again. “Well, I didn’t save’em. I just listened to a lot of’em talk.”
He added, “My daddy was a preacher. But that ain’t what made me wanna be a Holy Joe.”
“Oh, lotta things.” He looked at me with eyes of slate blue, the color of dungarees. “You ever hear of the SS Dorchester?”
I shook my head. “Was that your ship?”
“No way. The Dorchester was back during the War Against Hitler, in ‘43. I was busy filling diapers in ‘43. You weren’t even a glint in your grandfather’s eye.”
I will also tell youngsters they weren’t glints in their grandfathers’ eyes.
“The Dorchester was a troop transporter, carrying 904 passengers. They were in a three-ship convoy in the North Atlantic when they sank.”
“Sank.” He nudged his cap backward and acknowledged a young waitress who had joined our little conversational soirée. I got the feeling the old preacher didn’t get captive audiences like this anymore.
“How’d it sink?” asked the waitress.
“Torpedoed.” He clapped once. “The Dorchester got attacked by a German sub, middle of the night, just off Newfoundland. Enemy fire knocked out the electrical system, left 904 folks in the pitch dark.”
He leaned forward and lowered his voice for effect.
The waitress leaned in too.
“You wanna talk fear, fella? Try being stuck in the North Atlantic in the dark.”
He let the melodrama breathe for a few moments, then pretended to work on his puzzle again. He was probably waiting for us to beg him to keep talking.
“So what happened?”
The Holy Joe shrugged. “Panic. Suddenly, the crew was going ape, screaming. The ship was going down. Crewmen were trapped below deck. Game over. No hope.”
By now, another young waitress had joined storytime circle.
“So,” the old man went on, “guess who helps organize an orderly evacuation, guess who calms everyone down and keeps 900 people from losing it?” He thumped his hat. “Chaplains. There were four of’em on the Dorchester.”
He placed four fingers on the bartop. “George Fox, Alex Goode, John Washington, and Clark Poling—a Catholic priest, a rabbi, and two old-school preachers.”
The waitress interjected. “I’m Methodist.”
Everyone paused to look at the young woman with confused but polite smiles.
“Well, I am,” she said quietly.
I attempted to bring us back on track. “So they sank?”
“I’m getting to that part. See, these four chaplains were in charge of getting the panicked and wounded to safety, but first they had to pass out life jackets to everyone—in the dark, mind you—and that’s when it all hit the fan.”
He froze to add more tension. This guy was a showman.
“So what happened?” said the professed Methodist.
“What happened is they ran outta life jackets, and without those, you’re dead. Lotta men died.
“Survivors said the only thing you could hear that night were prayers in Hebrew, English, and Latin, filling the air—it was the voices of the chaplains. The chaplains never quit praying. There were 674 lives lost at sea.”
“Wow,” muttered the waitress.
I looked downward at my coffee and thought about brave men I never knew.
The old man’s voice hushed. “Survivors were swimming away from the wreckage, dog paddling through 34-degree water. Some said they looked at the ship behind them, in the glow of the emergency flares, and you know what they saw?”
“The four chaplains were removing their own life jackets and giving their jackets away to save others, while the ship was going down.”
The old man had glazed eyes now. “Last thing anyone remembers seeing was one priest, one rabbi, and two preachers, holding hands, linking arms with crewmen, and singing hymns. The waves crashed in, swallowed everyone whole, killed’em. And those four chaplains went down singing.”
He turned back to his crossword. “That’s what made me wanna be a chaplain.”
Something I wrote two years ago for FB:
Two years ago on this day one of my best friends left this earth. We talked almost everyday on the phone. I would take the kids to see him every weekend in Branford after Kathy passed away. He always had time to listen to me and engage me in conversation about the gators or national politics. His journey in life began in 1930 as the youngest child of Fred and Ernie Acree. He was a walking encyclopedia of family information. Not a week goes by when I really need to talk to him or ask him about somebody or better yet tell him about someone we knew. He taught me so much and I always knew he had my back and loved me unconditionally. It is the least a father can do for his child. You could learn more fishing with him than in any classroom you ever sat in. Mike, Kevin and I were so fortunate to have him. Friends called him Stu, or Stuart or even Stuff. We called him daddy until we had kids and then it was dad. Yesterday, I saw two darling little boys at the Dollar General with their father. They must have called him daddy a dozen times the few minutes I observed them. It took me back to my childhood. I was so lucky to have him as my daddy. I am not sad today. I am just recalling how lucky I was.
Page 1 of 2