Me: I know we have several veterans in the family. Can you tell me about them?
Dad: Sure! Well there’s your great-great-great grandfather, Christopher Dudley, who fought in the Civil War.
Your great grandfather – my mom’s dad – Albert King, who was an attorney and volunteered during WWI to be the head of the YMCA. At the time the YMCA had the role of the USO. Albert kept a diary of his time in France where he helped soldiers write home to their families if they couldn’t do that and just did things to lift their spirits. So he was behind the lines. The weapons we have on the wall at home here were brought back from WWI by grandfather King from WWI. They include a U.S. bayonet, a French bayonet and a German cavalry sword.
Uncle AD, your grandpa’s younger brother, also went into the Navy. He wound up on submarine duty escorting convoys. His submarine was sunk in the Northern Indian Ocean on its way to Iran during WW2, early in the war. Somehow he got out and survived. (Photo above: Taken before he shipped off)
Your great uncle Bill King, your grandma’s oldest brother, was a great pilot. His Hollywood name was William Westerveldt. He did a bunch of silent movies in 20′s. After Hitler attacked Poland he volunteered for combat. At the time, the US wasn’t in the war yet so they were secretly allowing US citizens to join the Canadian royal air force (and keep their US citizenship). Uncle Bill fought in the European war as a pilot.
Then when the US entered the war, Bill was immediately switched to the US flying forces. He fought the entire war, including air support during D-day. He was then switched to the Pacific and was killed there in August of 1945. His bomber plane was shot down over Java only days before the war ended. It took several years for us to get his remains returned to the US for his funeral.
(Dad pauses) My very earliest memory is from 1948. We went to the cemetery in Greensboro for the 21 gun salute. I can still see myself holding my mom’s hand looking up at the seven soldiers as they each fired three times and then buried his remains…
Dad’s Military Memories – To be continued…