A Family Affair

From left to right: Helen’s older son David in the Navy, Helen in the Woman Army Corps, and Helen’s younger son Daniel in the Air Force.

You could say serving in the military is a family trait of mine—my first husband and I served in WWII, and my two sons served in the Vietnam War.

I’ll tell you, the reason I joined the Woman Army Corps during WWII at age 21 was because all the good guys were in the service and my friend and I thought we’d get in and help them get it over with. I was stationed at ACE fighter command headquarters in England, eighteen miles northwest of London—right in the path of the V-2 rockets. I was doing an officer’s work (though I never did get a raise). All the generals came and would watch us plot missions. It was very exciting and interesting work.

From left to right: Helen’s younger son Dan, Helen, Helen’s first husband Leo, and Helen’s older son Dave.

My first husband Leo and I found each other again after the war. I had fallen madly in love with Leo when I met him at sixteen. But he said I was too much of a flirt and he broke up with me! Several years later, when we were both out of the service, I was in town working at a resource center for veterans. Little did I know that my friends that had introduced the two of us had kept in touch with Leo, and he knew where I was. When Leo got out of the Navy, he came down to say hello. The minute I saw him I knew I wasn’t going to let him go again! We were married two and a half months later.

When our sons were young men, our older son David joined the Navy during the Vietnam War, and not long after that our younger son Daniel joined the Air Force.

Dave was stationed on land at the mouth of the Saigon River in Vietnam. I once asked Dave in a letter what bunch he was with (meaning his friends, of course). He sent back a letter with a picture of grapes, saying “This is the bunch I’m with.” He has a sense of humor!

Dan trained to be a helicopter pilot in the Air Force. At one point, I remember washing clothes in my basement, and someone walked in the door. I thought, who is that magnificent-looking fellow? It was Dan, home from training! He had grown and filled out while he was gone.

Like any mother, one can be worried sick, especially in a time of war. I’ll tell you, if I hadn’t had good faith in my God I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I spent a lot of time praying. I asked God to take care of them, and He did. I learned early on that worry doesn’t take care of anything.

Leo and I were a bit wild when our sons came home. Being a veteran myself, I felt like I could kind of think their thoughts. I understood where they were coming from.

Leo has passed away and now Dave and Dan have families of their own, but we visit the cemetery on Memorial Day to put plants on the graves of Leo and my mom and dad.

What does Memorial Day mean to you? I hope you have a blessed holiday. Thanks for stopping by!

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