Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterns Day

Adam was pretty disappointed that he couldn't go to school yesterday.  He kept asking me why there was no school, and I tried my best to explain to him that it was a special day to honor those people who had fought for our country.  It was hard to explain, because we live in a country that that has not seen war on our shores for hundreds of years.  Yes, our military men and women are serving in places of war in other countries across the world, but a 5 year old (at least my 5 year old) doesn't get that.  How do you explain war to a 5 year old who has no concept of it?  I must have told him something that made sense, because he walked away and played with his bakugons.  Since our conversation, I've been thinking a lot about all those men and women who have served and are still serving our country.  I went and pulled out a couple of pictures that I was given several years ago of my grandfather.  He served on the USS LST 295 during World War 2.  I don't really know that much about it, except that he drove a landing vehicle onto the beaches of Normandy in 1944.  I remember several years ago when we were all visiting for his 80th birthday, we somehow got him taking about his service during the war.  He was always hesitant to talk about it, and I'm not sure how we got him started at that time.  I wish that we had tape recorded it or something.  I don't remember much of what he said. 
This is a picture of the crew of the ship he was on.  My grandpa is the guy with the number 1 on his chest.  The captain of the ship is number 2.
 This is a picture of the ship in May of 1945.  The caption at the bottom says "USS LST 295 landing on St. Aubin Bay Beach, Jersey Island, in early May 1945 with German POW's waiting to embark.  A total of 22,195 prisoners were removed form the islands Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, and Sark, 9,838 alone from Jersey.  There remained approximately 3,300 left to do clearing up work.  'Operation Nestegg' as it was called."
I found the following information on the internet about the ship that he served on:
LST-1 Class Tank Landing Ship:
• Laid down, 19 October 1943, at American Bridge Co., Ambridge, PA.
• Launched, 24 December 1943
• Commissioned USS LST-295, 7 February 1944
• During World War II LST-295 was assigned to the European theater and participated in the:
• Invasion of Normandy, June 1944
• LST-295 earned one battle star for World War II service
I can't imagine what my grandfather saw during his service in World War 2.  I am deeply grateful to him and to all the men and women who have served our country so that I am able to raise my boys with the freedoms that we enjoy.  So that Adam can go to school, we can worship in the way we choose, we have basic necessities of life, and in fact we live a very comfortable life. 
I need to teach my boys about the sacrifices that have been made.   I know Adam missed going to school yesterday, but I'm glad he was home and that he made me think about why he was home.  Why we enjoy the things that we do.
Thank you Grandpa!  Thank you to all those who fought beside him, before and after!


Diane said...

Amazing! I love reading about real people we know doing such hard things, then coming home and getting back to "normal life". Thank you for sharing.

The Conrad Family said...

Nate recorded that visit with Grandpa! He is working to get it on a DVD so everyone can have a copy! I think that is the most I have ever heard Grandpa say about the war. It was amazing to hear a little bit about what he went through. We really are blessed!

L Conrad said...

I have tried many times to get Dad to talk about WWII with very little success. His LST made 14 crossings from England to France delivering soldiers and equiptment starting on June 6, each trip took one day. LST's had three decks each capable of holding up to 90 tanks or trucks, it would take up to 6 hours to load the ship and then less than 30 minutes to unload it in France. All the vehicles were backed onto the ship so they could be driven off. The bow of the ship would lift up giving all three decks access. Dad's job was to pilot the ship and send and receive morris code messages from surrounding ships so he was stationed on the bridge. It also took 14 days to cross the Atlantic Ocean they took the northern root to England and back due to German uboat activity. Dad said the only time he was really worried about uboats when upon returning to the US they were stuck outside of Norfork Va. for three days due to fog and no harbor pilots could make it out to drive the ship into the harbor through the mine fields and sub nets. He said that just crusing up and down the coast waiting to get into the harbor was the worst part of the trip.
Because an LST is a large ship the beaches had to be secured before they could come in and unload so he was in the third wave landing Canadian Troops on Juno beach on June 6. Dad did say the the water was stained pink from blood of all the soldiers that were killed, but would not say anything else. All other trips across they were able to use the Mullberry Docks that were floated across the English Channel along with the invasion.
Mom did get him to talk about hearing that of the Japan surrender, He was on a train headed to the west coast to be assigned a ship to be involved with the invasion of Japan when they were told the war was over. He said that he has never felt so releaved in his life as he did that day.
The flag Nathan has in his livingroom is from Dad's LST it flew over the ship on all 14 of the English Channel crossings, when they returned to England after the last trip dad was on duty and it was his job to lower the flag so he took it down folded it up and put it in his sea bag and brought it home with him. That flag a pea coat and a couple of white sailor hats and dads old sea bag and B4 suit case are the only things I have ever seen from his navy days other than the pictures you posted which mom gave us to give to you kids. I truly wish I knew more that I could pass on.