Yesterday’s Veterans Day commemorative service at Courthouse Park was wonderful as always, and it’s important it be continued. We have to keep being reminded of the achievements and sacrifices of those who have served in our armed forces, because the vets themselves often say little about it unless they happen to be talking to others who have served.
The vets in my family were that way, and so were their friends. My father, Carl Doud, and my uncle, Dr. Herb Packard, both served in the Navy, but neither saw combat. They, like many who served in World War II, were part of the rear guard, backing up the men who went to face the enemy.
My father was a training officer, first in Florida, then in New Orleans. His job was to make sure engineers on ships knew how to keep their vessels running, especially those on submarines. He also was trained as a gunner and as a rescuer, just in case the enemy attacked the United States, but he never had to use those skills.
He personally was not an instructor, but a commander of instructors. He and his men helped make ships to go to sea and achieve victory.
Herb was a dentist at the San Diego Naval Base, and his job was to keep the teeth and mouths of sailors and their families healthy. Whenever a ship would come in, he would work day and night, sometimes for weeks, taking care of sailors’ needs.
One of my father’s friends was a soldier who fought in Iwo Jima. He was not injured physically, but when he got back home, even a car’s backfire would cause him to break out in a sweat. A 4th of July for him was hell.
These men thought of themselves as ordinary Americans. They weren’t. They were extraordinary, just like all those vets at Courthouse Park on Monday. We have to keep reminding ourselves of that. God bless them every one.