50-Year Anniversary in the US Navy

Today is the 50th anniversary of the day I joined the US Navy.

I raised my right hand and swore to defend the US Constitution August 31, 1965. That naive 19-year old had never been out of deep East Texas, never flown on an airplane, and certainly never thought about seeing the world. It would be another 120 days due to the Delayed Entry Program, before I departed East Texas for Navy Basic Training in San Diego, arriving there the night of December 28, 1965.

Today is also the 28th anniversary of my retirement from the US Navy. I retired in 1987, 22 years after originally joining in 1965.

In between, the Navy allowed me to travel the world and see cultures and things I never would have had an opportunity to see otherwise. I passed through or was stationed in: California, Florida, New York, Hawaii, Alaska, and Indiana, as well as: Japan, Guam, Okinawa (before it was given back to Japan in 1972), Nova Scotia, Scotland, England, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Greece, and Turkey.

My two sons were both born overseas in Scotland and Okinawa, and attended school in Italy, getting an education that would not have otherwise been possible, were it not for the US Navy.

I made friends all over the world in all five branches of the US military services, as well as other countries. Many of these remain friends of mine today.

What a wonderful ride it was. Today is an important day in my life.

Navy Veteran patch

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70 Years Ago Today

Today is the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan: August 6, 1945. The below article is a great discussion of the US’ “Target Committee” and what cities they considered as the first “target” and why.

As the article says at one point: “The committee unanimously agreed that the atomic bombs should be used: (1) as soon as possible; (2) without warning; and (3) on war plants surrounded by workers’ homes or other buildings susceptible to damage, in order to make a spectacular impression “on as many inhabitants as possible.”

Government leaders, including Secretary of War Henry Stimson, Major General Leslie Groves who was the Army engineer in charge of the Manhattan Project, scientist Robert Oppenheimer, and others all had their preferred targets.

Groves fought hard for Kyoto and it was first on his “list” of targets, but Stimson wanted Kyoto removed for a purely sentimental, personal reason: Stimson and his wife had visited the beautiful city of Kyoto with its wooden bridges and structures in 1926. Eventually Stimson, as Groves’ boss and the senior member of the target committee, won out and Kyoto was off the table.

Hiroshima was ultimately picked as the target and that sealed its fate. On August 6, 1945, the US dropped a uranium gun-type atomic bomb known as “Little Boy,” virtually wiping Hiroshima from the Japanese landscape.

Three days later, a US bomber dropped an implosion-type bomb known as “Fat Man” on the city of Nagasaki. The two bombings killed an estimated up to one-quarter million Japanese people.

The Soviet Union declared war on Japan on August 15, 1945. Japan capitulated and surrendered on the deck of the USS Missouri September 2, 1945. Less than one month after the initial bombing of Hiroshima, World War II was over.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/08/hiroshima-nagasaki-atomic-bomb-anniversary/400448/

Today Is Special

Today is my “used to be my birthday.”

August 5th “used to be my birthday” until I was 8 years old. My younger sister and I were actually born on November 1st and 5th, respectively, one year apart.

My mom and dad always told us we were born on August 1st and 5th so we could start school in First Grade in September (this was WAY before Pre-K and Kindergarten) in the little SE Texas town of Newton.

This was also before birth certificates were required to enter school. And yes, my mom “lied” to the Newton Elementary school and told them I (and later, my sister) were each six years old. I started when I was technically 5 years old and therefore was the youngest in my class all the way up through high school.

When we moved from Newton when I was 8, our parents told us the truth. For some reason, this upset us and we both cried about it. Then, they reminded us that we had already had a birthday party back in August and we MIGHT have another one in November. That made it all okay.

My mom’s heart was in the right place. She just did not want us to wait all year to start First Grade, just because we were born two months too late, and the school certainly was not overcrowded.

Years later, I found copies of my old original birth certificate. Apparently she had “experimented” with cutting out the year date and trying to tape a new, earlier date onto the certificate. But, since this was the days before photocopiers, her experiment flopped. Her answer was to just tell everyone we were born in August instead of November.

This is the same woman who taught me to read at the age of four from books on loan from my Aunt Joanna Brown who was a school teacher. This is also the same mom who helped me get my first library card while I was still four years old and walked my sister and me to the library for new books every week.

So, happy “used to be my birthday” to me.

I Miss you, Mom.

Jeri & Sonny at Bay

My sister, Jeri Lynn Harness Auld, and I at Matagorda Bay in South Texas the summer before I started school that September.

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