Navy Lt. Cmdr. Carl Doud, like many of the patriotic young men at the time, joined up at the beginning of World War II in order to fight the enemies our country faced.
He fully expected to be trained and posted to a berth at sea, but that was not what happened.
Instead, he was assigned to a Navy base in Pensacola, Florida, where he was trained to be a trainer — he would teach people to lead people.
He learned to fire weapons, of course, and learned his way around the various vessels based at Pensacola — none of them big war ships such as battleships or destroyers — but there were plenty of landing craft and smaller vessels.
Their importance to that base was soon to be overcome by the establishment and growth of the Pensacola Naval Air Station, which to this day is one of the great naval air facilities on the planet.
Carl Doud’s job was to help train people to train pilots, along with crews of smaller vessels, to help rescue pilots who had been shot down, to take Marines to beaches and land them safely and to transport the wounded safely back to hospitals on the big ships such as cruisers and battleships.
“The big ships got all the publicity,” Carl once told me, “but the little ships got the men out alive.”
I had opportunities to talk to him about his service as a trainer, because he was my father, and had a good memory, and he was proud of the fact he had done the job he had been given.
“Sometimes, I think I would have liked to be on one of those big ships,” he said to me once,” but I felt like I was saving our men’s lives in my job, helping them fight the enemy by keeping them alive.”
The men and women who fight in combat have a lot of backup who help keep them alive and functioning. The latest estimate is that for every 100 soldiers, sailors or airmen on the front line, about 50 work to train them, get supplies to them, tend to their wounds, cook for them, repair their vehicles and other machines, and handle chores that are necessary to make a modern army victorious.
As we honor our military this holiday weekend, we need to remember that not all whom we honor went into battle. Those who brought supplies to the battlefield, for example, were highly necessary, and in many cases just as brave as the men and women on the front-line.
I know that in his time of service his nation in World War II, my dad saved many lives by training others to save lives and by making sure that men knew what to do in the heat of battle, not only to defeat the enemy, but to come home safe.