by sherylross on November 11, 2013 · 1 comment

in Life

Today as we honor the individuals who have fought to create and sustain this country, I remember my father.  He was a “squid”, aka “Navy Man”, who served his country under unusual circumstances.  While his entry into the military might be considered by some, a bit obligatory, he felt extremely proud of his connection and service with the U.S. Navy.

Thirty-five years after his passing and well over 50 years ago when he taught me, whenever I need to spell the word “Mississippi”, a jaunty little tune pops into my head.  The sailors, who were assigned to the USS Mississippi, sang the song to embody camaraderie and commemorate their allegiance to their ship. To this day, when I need to spell “Mississippi”, if I do not sing the song in my head, the likelihood of a correct spelling is simply not guaranteed.  My love and devotion of who he was in my life, and what he stood for, continues to be an inspiration.

Due to the death of his mother when he was only 10 years old, he felt it was his responsibility as the first born and only son, to take on some of the household burdens and help his father raise his two younger sisters.  Because he was very large for his age, people had no way of knowing his true age.  He had always loved the game of golf and became a caddy at some of the many prestigious golf courses in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  Although he brought much needed money home, he was a habitual truant!  Consequently, by the age of 15, he stood in front of a judge and had to face up to the fact that he was going to be remanded to reformatory school.  Instead, he asked for mercy from the court and begged to be allowed to enter the military.  Given his status as a minor, in order to make this request a reality, he needed his father’s written approval and to convince the U.S. Navy Recruiter that this was a viable option for such a young candidate.

While I do not know the exact date of his enlistment, I do know that my father was the youngest person to be assigned to the USS MISSISSIPPI.  He entered the Navy when he was only 15 years old!  He served for three years and worked in the engine room of the ship.  He use to tell me that that is why his eyelashes were so short, that they had gotten singed by stoking in the fires in the engine and never grew back.  He got out of the Navy at the age of 18 when most other young men were just thinking of enlisting.

“Life stories” make us who we are.  I am very proud that when I remember “my veteran” today . . . it is this unique story of his service and love of country.

  • Cynthia Mitchell

    Love this SR~ so good to meet your dad , “your veteran” through your eyes.What a legacy!

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