Thursday, June 15, 2017

Father's Day and Memories

by Karen Rose Smith

Since Father's Day is this weekend, I thought I'd write a blog in honor of it and my dad.  My dad was born in 1916 and was never very vocal or emotive. At least not when I knew him. After my mom passed on, I inherited his service diaries. I didn't read them for many years. I took a cursory look at first and did not realize the wealth of information about him that was in them. So much that I never knew.

I have a photograph album too from his years in the service during WWII. But without descriptions, the pictures didn't tell me much though they did have dates. Once I read the diaries, I could put the photos with his words.

My dad wrote in the diaries every day he was in the service. He was never much of a writer though he did write me letters when I was in college. But in his diaries I saw the names and addresses of the men he served with, I felt the adventurous spirit that was once my dad's, the beauty he felt being on a transport ship sailing toward Naples, the joy when he arrived there, the camaraderie he felt with his buddies. His parents were Italian emigrants and being in the country where they were born had to mean so much.

I learned he was at a base in Oregon, stopped in Utah, traveled through Chicago and ended up at camp Patrick Henry in Virginia.  From there he boarded the General Richardson and sailed with almost 5000 soldiers to Naples.  While in Italy he visited Caserta, Bastia, Florence and Rome. His platoon was even received by Pope Pius XII. We were a traditional Catholic family and I never knew that.

Near the time he was due to be sent home, he received news that his youngest brother had been killed in the Philipines. He mentions it in his diary, though not his feelings about it. But I noticed in his entries after that, he wrote letters home more often.

I wish I had access to these when he was still alive.  I have so many questions.  I wish I had read them much sooner.  These diaries are 74 years old and besides my dad's handwriting and thoughts, contain a certificate of proficiency in a course of Armament, a Reservation for Purchase of Defense Savings Bonds, and an enlisted man's pass for Portland and its vicinity. They are a treasure trove of information I never knew about him.

Thank you, Daddy. Because of your diaries I can still feel your presence and remember so much more.

No comments: