A Salute to All of Our Veterans!

 

I remember the cold and blustery day when I closed my eyes and said a little prayer that He would give me the strength to get through the task at hand.

It was extremely hard to sort through my Aunt Bobbie’s possessions following her death, particularly since it was more like sorting through two generation’s keepsakes. My family has never been very good at throwing out our “stuff,” so there was a mixture of both Aunt Bobbie’s precious memories mingled with those of my grandmother. Thank goodness we are packrats, or I wouldn’t have this story to share with you,

I found “the letter” in the family Bible. You know the one that everyone has … gold leaf nearly worn off and the binding so fragile that it’s held together with masking tape. Ours has silver duct tape, too. The book protects an assortment of obituaries, wedding and birth announcements, and other newspaper clippings wedged between the pages. I picked up Granny’s handwritten recipe for Louisiana Pecan Pie. It sounds like a strange place to keep a recipe but not if you had known my Aunt Bobbie.

Although I’d thumbed through the family Bible many times as I grew up, I’d never noticed “the letter.” After keeping it secure for all those years, did my aunt move it to the one place she was sure I’d find it? I don’t know. But, I do know with Aunt Bobbie, everything had a reason.

The three pages are as yellowed with age as the memories inked on them. It’s written in a precise yet manly flourish with a black fountain pen scripted on light weight “air mail” stationery.

As I slowly unfolded the fragile pages, an odd sensation of serenity settle around me. I demanded that my emotions take a back seat and allow me privacy to read the letter, thus getting to know my Uncle Vick, Aunt Bobbie’s and Mama’s brother.

July 29, 1944

Dearest Bobbie,

I wish it was possible to talk to you and tell you what I have to say.

I’m telling you so you can tell Mom. I don’t know how she will take it and I don’t want her to be alone when she gets the news. I want you to see that she doesn’t worry about me because there is no cause for it. I am in good condition now but I was wounded worse than I let you know.

I am perfectly content and quite happy. The only thing I regret is having to leave the Marine Corps. My days in the service are few but I am happy that my discharge is honorable.

I landed on the Island of Saipan with the assault wave. I made it almost through the campaign but my luck ran out and I got in front of a Jap Machine gun. I took four bullets in my left leg and one in my left arm. My arm is completely healed but I wasn’t so lucky with the leg. This is what I’ve been trying to say. To save my life they had to remove my left leg. In other words I only have one leg.

Don’t feel sorry for me and don’t worry.

Today thanks to science a man doesn’t have to worry because they have artificial legs that a man can walk on just as normal as ever. He can dance, work, walk, run and do most anything else any other man can do. I don’t feel badly at all. I take it as just something that had to happen and I thank God I am alive.

I’ll be in the states soon. I will be in California for some time. After the leg is healed it takes a long time to get the stump tough enough for the leg to be attached. But I think I will get to come home for a while. Possibly in about three months. It won’t be the home coming I wanted but we are going to have lots of fun aren’t we? We can paint any town just as red as anyone else.

I haven’t told Naomi (his wife) yet and I don’t want Mom to tell her. That is my job. How I do it is something I haven’t figured out as yet.

Don’t write anymore until you hear from me again. Tell Mom the same thing. I expect to have a new address and it takes mail too long to catch up with me.

Keep Mom from worrying about me. Keep your chin up and we’ll all be happy.

I have to close now. I’ll be thinking of you and loving you,

Always, your Bud, Vick
PS: Tell Dad first. Maybe he can help. I’ll tell more next time. Love always, Vick

Through blurry eyes and swallowing a lump in my throat much too big to go down, I read the letter twice before returning the yellowed pages to its resting place. The most appropriate place I knew to stow the treasure … our family Bible.

The letter had been written seven decades ago, in a faraway country, by a Marine fighting for our democracy. I’m sorry that I missed the opportunity to really get to know him, but in 1952 God called him home earlier than the family planned. Uncle Vick was laid to rest at the age of 33 in the National Cemetery in Fresno, California.

Today I forced myself to reread the letter, as I prepared to share his story. I thought about the hundred of thousands of other servicemen that sent home similar letters.

I wanted to share this story with you in honor of all of our Veterans.  I have my own Viet Nam Vet  and I appreciate the sacrifices he gave for all of our lives and the liberties we have today.  

Do you have a veteran in your family? If so, please give them a salute and hug.  I’d love to hear about your vet.

Phyliss
A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

Visit her at phylissmiranda.com
Updated: November 10, 2019 — 3:23 pm

33 Comments

  1. I, too, have my Vietnam era veteran. He did four tours over there in B-52’s. I am ever so thankful he wasn’t on the ground. He participated in Linebacker II, the Christmas 1972 raids over Hanoi on his second tour. He retired after 24 years in the Air Force. His dad was Air Force as was his dad’s brother who died in a raid over France during WWII. My Father was in the Navy during WWII. His second youngest brother joined the army during the Korean conflict. He was 18 and a medic. He was killed on my 5th birthday when he was pulling an injured soldier off the battlefield. The Army Reserve Center in our home town bears his name. We are active in veteran activities and support both at the local Veterans Hospital and with Red Cross’ Service to the Armed Forces. Many vets help vets and they all need support at some time. One program we have been working with is No Vet Dies Alone at the VA hospital. There are many veterans that have no family or few family members left. We make sure someone is sitting with them at the end of their life. No one should pass from this world alone. Sitting with them, holding their hand as they pass is the least we can do to honor their service and their life.

    1. Oh my gosh, Patricia. Thank you for sharing. What a wonderful family you have and to lose your father so young. My daddy, and you can tell my age by this, was in the Army-Air Corp and stationed here in Amarillo AFB where he met my mother and ended up settling down. Your work at the VA is remarkable. I’m so proud that you’re one of our faithful readers and someone I call my friend. Major hugs for a true American military family. Thank you for sharing your story, my friend. A tribute to all of your family.

    2. Patricia, I failed to say congrats and I can only imagine how proud you are of having the Army Reserve Center bearing your father’s name. What a wonderful gift, especially after losing him so young in your life.

  2. Your Uncle Vic was quite a man. He’s more concerned with his family worrying about him. He left this world too early at 33. Thank you for sharing your letter. My two sons were career Army and not retired from service in the last couple of years. My late Dad and his 5 brothers were all military as well. I was so very proud the day my dad received the Silver Star at a ceremony in front of Town Hall and standing on either side of him were my two sons in uniform to escort their grandfather.

    1. Hi Carol, thank you for stopping by and reading my story. WoW, two career soldiers. I’m truly impressed. Then add your dad and his five brothers to the list…what a patriotic family. I can only imagine what it was like when he received the Silver Star. I know you were busting out at the seams. Thank all of your family for their service. Yes, 33 was way too young, but trust me, from all the family stories I heard, between him and my mama and aunt, he lived every minute of his 33 years to the fullest. He truly ended up “Painting the Town Red” when he returned to the U.S. Again, thank you for your families’ service.

  3. Veterans Day ~~ Honoring all who served.

    1. Sharon, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I truly agree with you … honor all who served. Have a wonderful day.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful blog. What an amazing story you found in your family Bible.
    My papa was captured by the Japanese and spent 3 1/2 years in prison camp. His stories he told me were eye opening, heart wrenching tales. Thanks for sharing. Love you!

    1. Hi Tonya, thanks for sharing your story. I can’t imagine being captured and the torture for 3 1/2 years. I can’t even begin to imagine the stories he shared. My Viet Nam vet told me one thing when we got married and said to never ask him anything ever. I never have and he’s never spoken to me about the war. Thanks again, my precious friend for sharing your family’s story. Love you much, Phyliss

    2. Tonya’s papa was my Uncle Bud. He and his brothers served our country. My father and my daughter’s Dad also served. I thank all of them for their service and my freedom.

  5. Oh my this really made me tear up. My hubs father was in WWII at Normandy. I remember he started telling me about that horrible day but he got so choked up he couldn’t go on and I never got him to talk of it again. He died just a year later from actually complications he was still dealing with from the war the had shrapnel still all in his kidneys. He was awarded the Purple Heart which my hubs still has today. So So sad what these men and women have gone through and even died for our country that so many take for granted but I never will I am proud of our veterans and think they all should be treated as treasure citizens of the USA. Thank you for sharing your story

    1. Thanks Glenda for sharing your family story. My Uncle was on Saipan, but of course Normandy is more recognizable with the younger people of today and WWII. Most men and women who saw action can’t or don’t talk about it. I’m so sorry to hear that he lost his life because of the war. My uncle’s death was attributed to cancer. He received the Purple Heart and we believe his x-wife may have had it. Since his only daughter passed a few years ago, other than his granddaughter, I am his oldest living relative and I’m working with the Support Center here to get it replaced, but it requires a lot of paperwork, which I don’t have. Yes, I totally agree that it’s sad what our service men and women of today and yesterday went through to protect us…and definitely they should be a treasured citizen! Thank you for reading my uncle’s story. I hope you have a wonderful day, my friend. Hugs, Phyliss

  6. To all the veterans out there. May we never forget to honor them!! Happy Veterans Day

    1. Thanks, Teresa, for stopping by. I totally agree with your comment; and hope and pray for the safety of all of our veterans and their families. Happy Veteran’s Day to all!

  7. Avatar

    What an awesome letter to still have possession of. I hate to think of all the families that aren’t sentimental and end up not holding on to important items such as this letter for generations to come. He was blessed to have had such a great attitude to share the bad news with your family. Many men look at the lose of a limb as a death sentence of it’s own and go through the rest of their life disgruntled. Thank you so much for sharing.

    My father’s side of the family lost two members of our family in the Vietnam war. Strangely enough it was a father and son. My father’s Uncle Fred and cousin Fred Jr. I was in my hometown for my mom’s 80th birthday party over the weekend and was blessed by the fact that The Vietnam Healing Wall was in Stephenville! I was able to go and find their names on the wall and get pictures which I’m fixing to share on my Facebook page for all our family to see. My father was very moved by the whole Memorial.

    Loved your blog! Happy Veterans Day!

    1. Hi Stephanie, thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment. Yes, Uncle Vic was one heck of a strong man. I salute your lost Vietnam family members. How wonderful that your uncle and cousin were able to attend your mom’s birthday! Give her a big hug from me. I’ll watch for the pictures of the Vietnam Healing Wall on Facebook. I’m sure it was very emotional and quite moving. Thanks for the kind comments and Happy Veterans Day to you and your family. Big hugs, Phyliss

  8. My dad was a veteran of WWII. We found a shoe box of letters he had written home during the war. Two years ago my siblings opened the shoe box to begin reading the letters. The first letter my brother read was so horrific we sat stunned. Many tears were shed. Dad never spoke of the war. Was awarded a Purple Heart which we cannot find. I respected my dad in a whole new light the day we read those letters. So, with great regard and honor, I salute our Veterans, who have untold stories of their own. God bless our Veterans and our country for whom they bravely served.

    1. Hi Kathy, I can only imagine how you felt reading your dad’s letters. Most vets don’t talk about the war and your dad was no exception. We cannot locate my uncle’s Purple Heart, but through the Veteran’s Service Center here, I’m working on getting a replacement, since I’m his oldest living relative. It requires a lot of paperwork, but in the end it’ll be worth it. I hope you are successful. I totally agreed with “with great regard and honor, I salute our Veterans, who have untold stories of their own. God bless our Veterans and our country for whom they bravely served.” And, I’ll add a thank you to the families left behind to love and support our warriors. Thanks and a big hugs, Phyliss

  9. My dad and my husband are veterans. We will be going to a program at our grandchildren’s school this morning to honor them and many more. What a great day!

    1. Hi Melanie, I salute your dad and husband for their service. How wonderful that your grandchildren’s school is having a program to honor the Veterans. Bless them all. I pray you had a blessed day. Hugs, Phyliss

  10. What a great post! All four of my sons were in the Navy and are veterans of the Gulf War.

    1. Hi Estella, I salute and thank your four sons for their service and being veterans of the Gulf War. I hope you have a wonderful day, and please thank them for their service. Hugs, Phyliss

  11. What an amazing piece of family history you have! I cannot fathom what the men went through in the military at that time. One of my uncles showed us his pictures of his time but he couldn’t get out many stories. We could tell he just didn’t want to relive it. Thank you to all who have served for our freedom.

    1. Thanks, Susan P. Yes, this letter is certainly a major and amazing piece of our family history. I totally agree with you about the common American has no idea what our service men and women have had to endure. As I mentioned before, most military American’s can’t tell the stories of what happened. As I said earlier, my husband told me one thing (and it broke my heart) about his time on the ground in Vietnam and he’s never spoken of it since. He graduated from college at mid-term and was on his way to Vietnam when his mama received his diploma in the mail. I salute each and every person who has been out there protecting us, so we can have the freedom we have today. Hope you have a wonderful day.

  12. I have many veterans in my family – father and father-in-law, husband, brother and brothers-in-law. Three retired from the military. I admire and salute them all.

    1. Hi Debra. How wonderful to have so many veterans in your family. I salute them, as well as the families they left behind to serve our country. I certainly admire them. Hope you have a blessed day.

  13. Several in my family have served – Daddy, Grandfather and cousins. God Bless ALL those who have served and are currently serving.

    1. Hi Caryl, I salute each and every person in your family who have served in our military, so we can all be safe. I agreed with “God Bless ALL those who have served and are currently serving.” I couldn’t agree more. We have a lot of veterans in our family, both sides, and love each one. Thanks so much and may you and yours have a blessed Veteran’s Day!

  14. I have several in my family, though none are close enough for me to hug. However, I always post something on social media about it, so I’ll do that later today. I thank them all, and are so thankful for our freedom, which includes our ability to worship God in the open!

    1. Hi Trudy, good to hear from you. I wish you could hug each and every family member and friend who have protected our country with their service now and then. Posting on social media is the closest we can get sometimes to a hug and it tells the world how much you appreciate each and every family member and friend who have served. I totally agree with their helping us to have our freedom which includes our ability to worship God in the open. Many, many blessings to you and your family.

  15. What a wonderful piece of family history you found. My husband was fortunate that when he was drafted was before the war in Vietnam exploded into the mess it became. Our son-in-law served 22 years in the Navy as a submariner. Our nephew is currently a sergeant in the Army. He, too, has a Purple Heart, from his first tour in Iraq.

    To all of our veterans and their families,thank you for your service. It’s a cliche but true “the price of freedom isn’t free”.

  16. Aw, PHYLISS! What a story! You know, back then, I’m sure it was extremely hard to think of losing a limb–well, it is in any day/age, but I was struck by him talking about all the advancements that had been made with the use of an artificial leg. And no matter what, I’m sure in the back of his mind, he had to be wondering if his wife would be accepting of him with such a severe wound. I think most men would. I’m so glad you found that letter. I’m sure that had to be one of the very hardest letters he ever wrote to anyone. So poignant, and you could even see his caring for the feelings of everyone else over what he was going through. He was one special person, and I know that, even though I never met him. Thanks for sharing this with us, Phyliss. That is some story. Hugs, my filly sis. Love you!

  17. Phyliss, also forgot to say, my hubby was in Vietnam, too, like your hubby. The guy who cuts our grass was here on Monday and said, “Happy Veterans Day.” and it surprised Gary! He replied with a thank you, but I could tell it meant a lot to him for someone to say it to him directly because of his service so long ago.

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