Happy Veterans Day, Dad

My 91 year old dad tends to exaggerate when retelling a tale. Or maybe I could say he turns an average story more colorful by augmenting the details. I suppose some might say he lies but, whatever…tomato, tomotto.

So, please understand that all these years when he talked abut his World War II Navy service in the South Pacific, some stories seemed fabricated.  My personal favorite was when he grew a savage beard while he was on Borneo Island. He had to avoid cannibals, but, not to worry, his pet monkey could smell the enemy and warn him. Is it just me or does this story seem plucked straight out of The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking?

After my dad suffered a stroke this past August, we sent for his Navy records, hoping to find any evidence that he was injured in the war. An injury, we were told, would get him the “Golden Parachute” in benefits. When his records arrived last month, I learned that my father was in five battles (including Luzon, the second largest battle in the Pacific), his ship took a direct hit in a Japanese air bombing, he earned three bronze stars, a Meritorious Mast, and a ribbon for his participation in the Battle at Leyte.

Obvs, thanks to a certain monkey with a heightened olfactory sense, my dad suffered no injuries during the war. To which I say, Step off Pippi Longstocking, bye-bye Golden Parachute, and HELLO war hero Dad!

Within hours of receiving the Navy records, David and I go to visit my dad at the skilled nursing facility where he currently resides. David starts by shaking my dad’s stroke-weakened hand and says, “I just want to thank you for your service, I had no idea what a war hero you are”. Dad’s eyes are immediately bloodshot as he holds back tears. We sit there using our church voices for a bit, reflecting on his heroism. He assumes the humbled but grateful posturing of a true war hero as tears well in his eyes. Then–Presto Chango— someone in the room unwittingly takes the focus off Dad by asking, “Wasn’t it Audie Murphy who was the most decorated Army soldier?” I try to quickly direct the conversation back to my dad. I tell him how proud I am of his service, to which he retorts,

“You should be, I’m the Audie Murphy of the Navy”.

Maybe he exaggerated? Perhaps he’s not the most decorated Navy vet. Whatever…tomato, tomotto. He’s the Audie Murphy of my family.

Happy Veterans Day to all the heroes out there, Audie Murphys all.

Ralph's WWII Album
LST 471, South Pacific, Circa 1943
Ralph's WWII Album
Ralph Pierman, U.S. Navy, Circa 1943
Ralph's WWII Album
Australia, Near Brisbane, Circa 1944 (Ralph far right)
Ralph's WWII Album
Ralph Pierman (front) with his Mates
Ralph's WWII Album
Ralph Pierman, WWII Hero

5 Comments

  1. They were kids, really. Never complained, never whined, and fought with a smile. 🙂
    A great post, Alison. How is your father doing? I understand he is in a nursing facility?
    Better than the hospital, but are there any plans (and chances) to get him back home any time soon?
    (A belated Happy Veteran’s day to him)
    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They were just boys. It is an amazing chapter in history. My father got to return to his home last week! Did I tell you, meantime, my mother broke her hip?! Anyway, both are home and living with much aid and attendance of the paid and also charitable kind. Thank you for asking. How are you? Where are you? Plans to travel soon, I hope?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Good and bad at the same time. It is such good news that your Dad is your home. That is sooo much better for older people’s morale. Now, the hip… They get brittle with age. What did they do? Screws or a prothesis? Normally it takes a bit of rehab, but they get back to walking ok. Give them my best regards. They will be ok. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The doc said my mom’s bones are very dense. She just fell weird. They put a screw in her hip joint. Dad will be 92 in February so he’s doing well for a man who is that old and just had a massive stroke. Thank you for always being so kind. Talk to you soon!

        Liked by 1 person

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