Going home

My father, who will turn 88 this year, left high school early for the U.S. Army, five months before Pearl Harbor.

Though none of them were born in this country, four of the seven Galloway brothers would scatter themselves across the globe during World War II. Dad was the youngest, and the only one to carry a sketch book.

He’s the only one left.

As an Air Corps mechanic, he started in north Africa, then moved on to India for flights across the Hump into China.

The cartoonist Bill Mauldin was something of a hero. Lined notebook paper would do in a pinch. Above is a rescued drawing from Dad’s return trip in ‘45. That lump in the background is the Rock of Gibraltar.

In the upper right hand corner are traces of a laundry list written on the other side — a brief catalog of one young warrior’s requirements for conquering the world: Four undershirts, four shorts, two handkerchiefs, two dress shirts, four pairs of socks, and two coveralls.

Dad seldom talked about his adventure. But he once told me that he had a vague memory of, shortly after he finally docked at home, running up and down the hall of a New York City hotel in the wee hours — drunk, liberated, and screaming “God damn the Colonel!” at the top of his lungs. This from a church-going man who rarely raised his voice.

He was no more than 22 — probably 21 — when he came back after five years of war. Yet the imprint remains. We moved Dad to California last summer, to a place not far from Los Angeles.

Shortly after his arrival, he pointed my sister to the distant shaded hills. The Atlas Mountains, Dad declared.

But it is the San Gabriel range that sits just past Los Angeles. The Atlas Mountains stretch across the top of northwest Africa — spanning Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. They stand opposite the Rock of Gibraltar.

Have a thoughtful Memorial Day.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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41 comments Add your comment

Homer Cook

May 30th, 2011
7:40 am

Thank You for sharing this story.
My THANKS for your family contribution.

Homer Cook

JB

May 30th, 2011
7:46 am

My dad just turned 87. He was a diesel tender on an LST at the invasion of Normandy on V-E Day.
He was then assigned to a newly commissioned LST that served in the Pacific until the Japanese surrender.

Jill

May 30th, 2011
8:16 am

Please extend our gratitude to your Dad and all the other Veterans and Service Men & Women of the United States of America!

Julia

May 30th, 2011
8:20 am

These braves men and women truly are, THE GREATEST GENERATION. those of us who come behind are blessed to call them parents. We will not see their like come this way again I fear.

The Centrist

May 30th, 2011
8:20 am

A story of a real American summarized in 339-words.

Newtonian

May 30th, 2011
8:35 am

My Dad turns 84 in a week. They truly were the GREATEST GENERATION, agreed.

deegee

May 30th, 2011
8:57 am

Great story. My dad died in 2009 from the complications of Alzheimers disease. He served in the Pacific Theater for 3 years. He too, never spoke about the war until his disease started to advance. He would make cryptic comments from time to time. They served proudly, returned home and got on with life. They never wore their service on their sleeve. God bless them.

Jimmy Hill

May 30th, 2011
9:31 am

Thanks for sharing your story Jim. I hope we never lose these stories and that they are shared with those coming behind us.

Bill Todd

May 30th, 2011
9:42 am

My late Greatest Generation father also joined the Army Air Corps in May 1941 at the age of 17 and also flew The Hump in the China-Burma-India theater as a radio operator in the 10th Air Force. I gave him a copy of Tom Brokaw’s book and wrote in the title page, “Thanks for winning the war.”. he was a hero to me.

Patti Morrison

May 30th, 2011
10:07 am

The hotel story made me smile–I could picture your Dad running, screaming–drunk and cursing, never! My Daddy served in the Merchant Marines during WWII, enlisting at 17. Even though it was dangerous and the Merchant Marines suffered many casualties, they are not afforded veteran status. FDR had a bill on his desk to grant veteran status to the Merchant Marines, but the bill died with him. The only veteran benefit Daddy was eligible for was the U.S. Flag for his coffin and a gravestone marker.
Thanks, Jim for bringing back memories of both our Dads, and the two of us as children. I remember some company picnics at Lake Spivey and Seabrook.

Ralph Nelson

May 30th, 2011
10:11 am

Very thoughtful, but I believe you are confusing Memorial Day, which is a day in honor of those who died in service of our country, with Veteran’s Day which honors all who served. In any case, thank your father for me.

Patti Morrison

May 30th, 2011
10:18 am

Ralph, I think his point was that we sent boys to war and those “boys” never came back. They were changed forever.
They were fighting for freedom–so you both may have your own opinion of honoring veterans.

Last Man Standing

May 30th, 2011
10:49 am

The number of men (and women) who served in World War II is dwindling rapidly. May we never forget their service and sacrifice to America. My Dad served in North Africa, Italy and France with the Army. My uncle served in the Pacific with the Marine Corps.

WW ll veteran

May 30th, 2011
11:23 am

Thanks to all of you good folks who have posted comments remembering us,

Tell the truth

May 30th, 2011
11:58 am

My wife’s father was from a small south Alabama town and he was among 5 brothers who would serve in various theaters of WW!!. Amazingly they all came back alive. Their small town newspaper ran a front page story with all five pictured. All wonderful men.

MT

May 30th, 2011
12:31 pm

My father is 92 and too served in North Africa. He met and married my mother in Algiers, 1945. They are now stationed in Dallas. Thanks for your dad’s story!

findog

May 30th, 2011
1:30 pm

Jim,
Always love reading your dad’s story
Too bad our nation cannot work together like they did back then to solve the budget
Need to cut spending and raise taxes on everyone from the minimum wage hamburger flipper to the Banking CEO
But alas the democrats want to return social security taxes to the poor as the earned income tax credit and the republicans want to cut taxes for corporations and billionaires to boost economic investment while the middle class gets fewer services, failing infrastructure, and a greater burden of the cost of government…

eatmotacos

May 30th, 2011
2:51 pm

My dad, in the army, and his brother, in the navy, both served in the Pacific Theater – they were both coincidentally, at the battle for Leyte Gulf, and neither knew the other was there – my uncle on an Iowa class battleship and dad on shore. My mother left my brother with our grandparents during the week, and commuted by train from Dalton to work in the Bell Bomber plant in Marietta. My father didn’t see my brother until after he was 3.

They made these sacrifices to preserve there country and home for future generations, only to have it all sacrificed by the greedy lowlifes who make up the carpet cartel.

luangtom

May 30th, 2011
3:55 pm

Pa has died, but he is still a hero in the eyes of us all. He, too, flew the Hump betwixt China, Burma and India. Pa was with the Flying Tigers and Gen. Claire Chenault for 39 months.

Hold yer pa close and let his memories roll off his tongue. These are moments y’all will never get back and will cherish forever. His experiences and actions in those times make our lives all the better. They truly are “The Greatest Generation”………

Aquagirl

May 30th, 2011
4:16 pm

I think I have something in my eye….

Greg

May 30th, 2011
4:40 pm

God Bless America and the men and woman who live and died to protect her!

Rob L.

May 30th, 2011
4:44 pm

I like how you stated that he served a country that he was not born in. Alot of our service members today are doing the same and we should not be alienating them but rather celebrating them. Thank for the great story!!! I am and will continue serving this wonderful country as a first generation legalized US citizen. God Bless the USA!!!

Going home | Conservative GA

May 30th, 2011
5:15 pm

Michael

May 30th, 2011
5:51 pm

My brother basically got high during Vietnam is a stoner to this day.

Al Bartell

May 30th, 2011
6:06 pm

Great story….I’m a veteran and so was my father…..Jim, You’re The Man!

hl

May 30th, 2011
6:11 pm

Devildog

May 30th, 2011
6:22 pm

I’m a veteran, my son is a veteran and three grandsons are veterans. We all appreciate your dad.

Frederick Douglass

May 30th, 2011
7:29 pm

Jim I am truly touched by your dad’s story, it’s timeless, timely, yet bittersweet. I’m a veteran, and some say I’m always interjecting race into stuff, but I haven’t seen any mention here today of the African American, Asian, and other minorities that served even though they had no rights at home. I had three uncles in WWII, they wouldn’t come back to the south after their service was done, because of ill treament before they left. I have a Mexican friend that said his dad was sent back to Mexico to live with his grandparents to escape the war, he sneaked back without his parents knowledge and joined the army, and served valiantly in Europe. My aunt’s fiance was obliterated in the Pacific theater, no remains have ever been sent home, she eventually married someone else, but in many ways she’s still a nineteen year old waiting for her soldier to come home.

khc

May 30th, 2011
8:02 pm

my dad was at saipan, he did not like to talk of war

the original and still the best John Galt

May 30th, 2011
8:31 pm

I had a pair of uncles who served in World war II, now both gone. One in the Pacific in the Marine Corps, the other in Europe in the Army. Neither one would talk about the war much when I was a kid, but after I had served for a while myself, in the early ’80’s, they shared war stories.

My uncle the Marine would never listen to any of that “hero” talk. He said the same thing the father in “Flags of our Fathers” said: “All the real heros are dead.”

Thanks, Mr. Galloway, for sharing your dad’s story. Remember all those who didn’t come home on Memorial Day.

rooster

May 31st, 2011
12:18 am

God bless your Dad, Jim.

Linda

May 31st, 2011
12:21 am

Jim, Thank you for a good post.

Memorial Day is a good time to go home

May 31st, 2011
8:10 am

I’m home visiting my WWII veteran father. Still a devoted husband, twice-a-day he visits my mom in the nearby nursing home.

Yesterday, he and I and his sister (visiting from California) went to their hometown (Taylorville, IL) to visit the cemetary to pay our respects to their parents, other family, and friends. We enjoyed a ceremony at the cemetary that included a band and speeches. It will probably be the last time my dad will be able to make such a trip.

Memorial Day

May 31st, 2011
8:16 am

Indeed, our troops deserve our prayers and gratitude and reverence. Their sacrifice is that last measure of devotion to our flag. Service men and women the living “better angels of our nature” that Lincoln conjured.

We get a rebirth of freedom every time a soldier lays down his life.

Always remember.

Always.

Wondering

May 31st, 2011
8:18 am

My Father fought in the Pacific (at the age of 14) and would never discuss it until he met my Father-in-Law, who was also there. After their brief conversation about common thoughts, they both looked to my son and I and asked us to remember their comrades that died in War to preserve and protect our way of life.

I miss these men. Every Memorial day, I do as they did. I honor the fallen. My wife, our children and I are so lucky to have been born Americans. Freedom is never free. I hope everyone took some time yesterday to reflect on the cost of our freedom, and recommitted to honoring our war dead by continuing to protect their legacy for future generations.

Memorial Day

May 31st, 2011
8:22 am

A freedom bell rings every time a pilot gets his wings.

quickwedge50

May 31st, 2011
8:56 am

I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshiba laptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by FedEX. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores. I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, http://GoGetBids.com

Olderandwiser49

May 31st, 2011
9:17 am

My dad just turned 88, too. He was a PFC with the 82nd Airborne at Normandy, and spent the first few minutes of the attack in a tree, after the plane overshot its drop zone. He went on to make the Army a career, retiring as a Colonel. Like so many who fought, he spoke almost nothing about the war. One of his only comments to me about it was “War is a horror I hope you never have to see.” A great man, from the Greatest Generation!

Marie

May 31st, 2011
11:02 am

My father served in WWII in France and Germany. He was wounded in combat, but did not get a purple heart because he was a Black service soldier who was never supposed to see combat. No one told that to the Germans. So he served, fought, was wounded to liberate countries and when he came home, he still did not have the right to vote in his own country in his home state of Arkansas. He also told me he had a friend who was pulled from a train and lynched while still in his uniform. While we are remembering, we need to remember the fight against inequality that the black veterans had to endure even after coming home.

Amy Morton

May 31st, 2011
4:30 pm

Jim, thanks. This iconic drawing belongs in a museum. I always enjoy hearing your
Dad’s story. Like you, like others in this stream, my father served in WWII. They really
were the “greatest generation,” from depression-toughened families, with a sense of duty
trumping any thought of entitlement. Bless them all.

Susan

June 1st, 2011
10:17 am

quickwedge50- STOP ADVERTISING, ESPECIALLY DURING A BLOG LIKE THIS.
IDIOT!