Going home

My father, who will turn 89 in a few days, left high school early for the U.S. Army, six 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.

india

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.

He was an amateur photographer, too. We found this shot of his compadres under his bed not long ago, a timeless portrait of young boys with guns, taken at a training base before they had any inkling of what real war might be like:

blythe2

Special/James A. Galloway

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 hotel in the wee hours — drunk, liberated, and screaming “God damn the colonel!” at the top of his lungs. This from a future elder of the Red Oak, Ga., Christian Church.

If I were a betting man, I would name Nov. 25, 1945 as the date of that celebration. That was the day of his discharge, and the day before his birthday. He had spent four years, five months and 14 days in uniform, traveled half-way around the world and back, but hadn’t turned 22.

Yet the imprint remains. We moved Dad to California two years ago, 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 skirts the City of Angels. 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 Veterans Day.

ScreenShot176

Staff Sgt. Jim Galloway (left), in greasy coveralls and parachute.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

27 comments Add your comment

Georgia

November 11th, 2012
11:34 am

Stay firsty my friends.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

November 11th, 2012
11:39 am

I was waiting for you to post this. Happy Veteran’s Day to my Dad, your Dad and everyone who has served this country in the Armed Forces.

BRW

November 11th, 2012
11:45 am

Thank your dad for his service.
I miss my dad something awful. He spent two years fighting across Italy and on into France.
Never wanted to speak of it much.

Michael

November 11th, 2012
12:18 pm

Great story Jim.

Mary Elizabeth

November 11th, 2012
12:27 pm

Thank you for a beautifully written homage to all veterans through the touching story of your outstanding father. You are blessed to still have him. My parents, both of that generation, are now deceased. My father was a WWII lst Sergeant in the Army/Air Force. Dad died at 80 in 2000, and Mom died in 2007 at age 85. Gone, but never forgotten. Theirs was an outstanding generation, as your description of your father, once again, confirms. Thank you for this eloquently written piece, and for including the photo taken by your father of his WWII buddies, and the photo of your father, who resembles you, with his friend, as well as your father’s perceptive artwork of the North Africa, of that time.

Mary Elizabeth

November 11th, 2012
12:47 pm

In appreciation of all veterans, today, including all of those veterans who contribute to this blog, and in memory of my father, brother, uncles and aunt, cousins, as well as my two husbands, I say, “Thank you. Well done. Much appreciated.”

Auntie Christ

November 11th, 2012
1:03 pm

On occasions like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day we get subjected to a lot of superficial, trite, Madison Avenue contrived ‘tributes’ that are basically ‘made for tv’ fluff. It is refreshing to read one that is heart-felt and sincere, from someone who actually knows first hand about the sacrifice veterans have made, and the experiences they endured. Thank you so much for this sincere tribute, Jim Galloway.

You treat us to your dad’s skills as a photographer and artist, but it should be noted that becoming a Staff Sergeant at the age of 21 is also something worth writing home about. Apparently he was as good a soldier/mechanic/leader as he was an artist.

cc

November 11th, 2012
1:08 pm

This is one column I look forward to each year! It is one of the very few times that Galloway and I are in complete agreement.

My thoughts always turn to my deceased father, who served in the Army in Africa, Sicily, Italy and France, and to my 95 year old uncle who served with the USMC in the Pacific. Both, of course, served during WWII and returned home safely. So many of their brothers-in-arms did not live to return. We should be especially mindful of them and their families.

To all veterans, I wish you a very special and happy day. Thank you for your service to our country and for preserving our way of life.

Auntie Christ

November 11th, 2012
1:33 pm

I hope the anti-immigrant crowd pays particular note to the very first sentence of this post; “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.”

Then I hope they visit a Veteran’s cemetery someday to honor our veterans. While there they will hopefully note the names on the small white crosses, names like Galloway, Garibaldi, Hernandez, Yu, Tanaka, Majewski, Greenberg and 100’s of other representing people who crossed our borders legally and illegally, not to take from, but to give to this country. Maybe the experience will prompt them to shed their pox news, lou dobbs inspired stereotype of immigrants as takers, thieves, and parasites and recognize their contribution to making this the great country it is.

Kris

November 11th, 2012
1:35 pm

To all veterans. Thank You.

Patti

November 11th, 2012
2:25 pm

My Dad and Jim’s Dad were maintenance foreman for United Airlines. My Daddy also quit high school to enlist in the Marines, but his mother insisted he join the Merchant Marines so his brother in law could look out for her 17 year old son. Merchant Marines were never awarded veteran’s benefits, but he was eligible for a US flag at his funeral.
My Father did take the GED and I still remember seeing him receive his diploma when I was 4. There are some states that will award high school diplomas to veterans of WWII who left school. Georgia is one and Virginia also will award diplomas for the Korean War and the Viet Nam War.
My Mom and Jim’s Mom worked together at the Meadows Elementary School, but that is a story for another day!

jconservative

November 11th, 2012
3:09 pm

Nice piece of writing Jim.

Happy Veterans Day to my fellow veterans.

Weetamoe

November 11th, 2012
3:13 pm

My husband’s great Aunt Charlotte, a nurse from Rhode Island, flew the Burma Hump regularly, caring for the wounded being evacuated. Too bad your resident atheist poster muddied the memories with mendacious generalities against persons said atheist perceives as enemies.

bob

November 11th, 2012
4:46 pm

Auntie Christ November 11th, 2012
1:33 pm “I hope the anti-immigrant crowd pays particular note to the very first sentence of this post”
Auntie, was Galloway’s father an illegal ? It was a nice story, why do you have to bring your politics into it ?

cc

November 11th, 2012
6:29 pm

bob:

“It was a nice story, why do you have to bring your politics into it ?”

I agree . . .

It is a shame that we can’t salute our veterans without the interjection of controversy. This is neither the time nor place for it.

South Georgia Retired Educator

November 11th, 2012
8:01 pm

It was heartwarming to read this column once more. My father was also a WWII vet, landing in one of the waves of soldiers, marines, and sailors on the Normandy coast. He mentioned it only once, very modestly, to me late in his life. He was just a country boy from South Georgia who answered the call, did his duty, and returned to finish raising a family. Always humble, never boastful, and ever faithful to his family and country.

Fred ™

November 11th, 2012
9:12 pm

What a nicely written piece Jim. Your dad is quite the artist. I envy him as I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler much less anything artistic.

cc

November 11th, 2012
9:41 pm

South Georgia Retired Educator:

I noted that neither my father nor my uncle ever talked of their experiences. It was later in my life after I had experienced and understood war that I came to understand why they were reluctant to speak of it.

Heroes they were and heroes they shall forever remain in my heart, and I reference all the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from the Greatest Generation when I say that. Having said that, it does not diminish my gratitude and admiration for all other veterans of all other wars America has fought.

I salute you all!

Daniel Groce

November 11th, 2012
11:21 pm

This is wonderful to see every time, Jim. Thanks for sharing. It also reminds me of how long I’ve relied on the insider to inform me. Your dad must be proud of the great work you do.

Auntie Christ

November 12th, 2012
12:50 am

cc
November 11th, 2012
6:29 pm

bob:
“It was a nice story, why do you have to bring your politics into it ?”
I agree . . .
***************************************************
I could not care less if you narrow minded bigots appreciate my comments or not. How clueless does someone have to be to complain about a discussion of politics on a blog entitled “Political Insider?” Jim Galloway thought it was appropriate and significant to mention that his dad was an immigrant, and I expounded on that particular part of his commentary,apparently causing you xenophobes some unease in the process. Get over it.

Bob

November 12th, 2012
6:54 am

Auntie, We came from immigrants or were immigrants. I and many others can trace roots to where our families came through Ellis Island prior to wars and fought. I can trace on side that came over just prior to the civil war and had an ancestor die fighting for the north. My mom’s side can be traced back to coming over prior to WW1 and losing a member in that war. What we can’t seem to trace is any family member crossing the border illegally and signing up for food stamps, WIC or SSI. If you can’t see the difference between the two that is your problem. Xenophobe, harldy, we need an infusion of labor to pay some of our bills like the PONZI social security, and we need to bring in brains and slow the invasion of low skilled people.

Greg

November 12th, 2012
7:27 am

One great way to honor our Vets would be to insure that they are not cannon fodder to the tax cutting mania. Please let’s not give our former troups lip service while we cut their hard earned benifits.

legionaire

November 12th, 2012
7:42 am

My 1st cousin was AAF and a crew member “flying the Hump” and was shot down in China. He and several other crew members who lived, were hidden by a Catholic Priest for 7 months until Japan surrendered. He had contracted TB and lost a lung and wore a back brace for the rest of his life. As an Army veteran I salute all US combat vets from every war and pray for the troops still in A-Stan.

J (not so) Smooth

November 12th, 2012
9:18 am

That was a beautiful article. I loved your dad’s drawings, and well…I love your dad too, by your telling! Please tell him thank you from a not-so-cool Atlanta gal, and from the rest of us here in the U.S. (and countless thankful citizens all over God’s world) “Thank You” for his service, his honor, and for giving us a portion of his life…his youth, his memories, and his courage.

Mr. G, I’m sure YOU have many more colorful stories to tell about your dad…although I understand the whole being a bit mum about his experiences (not personally, just by hearing of other vets’ from his era and “past-forward”).

Please, if you don’t mind sharing, consider posting an audio or audio & video recording of your dad, to help add to the online history book located here and there in bits and pieces throughout the Internet. The AJC is as good a source of documenting the past as any, as I see it.

Many would LOVE to hear, and or see your dad speak, and other veterans speak on whatever it is they are comfortable speaking on/about.

I would that I could remember the names of 1 or 2 of the public television documentaries featuring young bucks like your dad who did “man” things at such tender ages, and finally decided to open up about it decades later…thankfully…for those whose freedoms are a gift in many a part thanks to them, and their brave, selfless, and honorable service.

Tell your dad, like I requested once above, thank you, I love him, and his, for his (and his loved ones left behind to worry & pray for his safe return) for your gift of valor to a pretty non-deserving, less-than-cool chick like me!

Heartfelt thanks to your dad, and to you for the story telling (albeit a “sic” to imply said blasphemies would have sufficed :-) *smiles* .

Much love to you!

-J Smooth

J (not so) Smooth

November 12th, 2012
9:31 am

Hey, one more thing Mr. G,

I was reading some of the comments and stopped partially through

Mary Elizabeth

November 11th, 2012
12:27 pm

and I was wondering, if you or any of the previous posters might be able to put together a special Veterans’ stories section here online at your blog…so that their stories could be told with pictures. I’m sure that you could muster up volunteers near enough/in the Metro area that would LOVE, and have a lot of fun interviewing, and collecting these stories, and helping to stitch that quilt together so-to-speak. I know personally I’d LOVE to help with that, because I just grew up enjoying hearing story telling as a kid from just recounts of the childhoods and young adulthoods of those a bit older than me. That was fun for me as kid, and my younger sibling as well.

I only remember reading of ONE local documentary film maker who was interviewing some local veterans in the Decatur area, through another local publication. I don’t remember his name, but I know I could find it online in a dash, just in case he wouldn’t mind lending a hand if you all decided that this was a good idea. I don’t have an online facebook or any social media account, but I left my email in the email bar, so feel free to drop me a line if you or you find your readers would be interested in something like this.

I’d be glad to volunteer whenever I could. Getting the history from the lips of those who actually lived it, is like finding gold during a treasure hunt to me. It’s a privilege to be able to touch, and shake the hands of and hear the stories of those who actually touched the part of history my generation normally only gets to read about in dry history texts.

Don't Tread

November 12th, 2012
9:33 am

“One great way to honor our Vets would be to insure that they are not cannon fodder to the tax cutting mania.”

You mean benefit-cutting mania?

My wife’s father is having a rough time getting applied and approved for veterans benefits. Seems they made all these forms and processes as confusing as possible so they can deny benefits to as many as possible. A lawyer and some divine intervention are needed to help navigate through this minefield.

Shar

November 12th, 2012
11:17 am

Lovely. Thank you.