US Army - THANKSGIVING DAY REFLECTIONS - SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES MILITARY
I enlisted in the United States Army and was sworn in in January of 1954.
I am classified as a Korean War Veteran, and entitled to Veteran Benefits as provided for by Public Law 550.
Because at that time, there was only a Truce in effect during the Korean War, all benefits were still available for a period of time beyond the Truce.
In 1954 I had my lst Thanksgiving Dinner away from my Parents home.
My Mother was a fantastic Cook (and a fantastic Mother) and since Thanksgiving Dinner was the 2nd biggest event in our household, the Christmas Dinner being the lst, the Army Cooks of the 159th Engineer Group in Ft.Leonard Missouri, didn't stand a chance up against my Mother and Dad.
Although I enlisted for 3 years, because of an Early Release, I only had 2 Thanksgivings in the Army.
As I recall, they were both very good.
The 2nd Thanksgiving Dinner in the Army, was served and eaten, in the Mess Hall of Company B, of the 83rd Engineers (Construction) in Bussac,France.
My understanding was, and is, that Landes de Bussac, is translated in English to the Land of the Swamps.
I never noticed or was aware of any swamps.
The City of Bordeaux was about 40 miles away.
The most Interesting Christmas Dinner I had while serving in the Army, out of 2, was actually on a Military Transport Ship named the S.S.Langfit.
For some reason, I had been given a Temporary Assignment of being in charge of the Servers of the food, on one side of the Ship.
Such a Position of Responsibility guaranteed that I ate very well.
The trip across the Atlantic, in less than 1st Class Quarters, initiated on Dec 23rd, and ended in Bremerhaven,Germany, 11 long days and nights later, among other things, served to introduce me, for the 1st time, to the Spanish Language, in that the Crew Members of the Ship sang Christmas Carols to us in Spanish.
I guess the Jews,Witnesses,Agnostics,and non-Christians, suffered, by being left out. But maybe not, as I recall the Singing.
There were 3,500 troops on that Ship.
I can not believe Steerage Class enroute to Ellis Island in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, could have been any worse.
Since being in France in 1955 and 1956, was only 9 years after WWII ended, there were still a lot of Regular Army Personnel still serving in the Service.
My First Sergeant, who I served with as his Company Clerk (the Guy who could type) was named Stanley Mika, the last name being shortened from a longer Polish Name.
He had served in the 2nd Armored Division, of Patton's 3rd Army, as a Forward Observer, you didn't have to be an Officer then, and had seen a lot of Front Line Combat Duty.
Among the many Wise Bits of Information he shared with me, was a conversation we had about serving in Combat.
I commented to him that I didn't know if I would be a Coward or a Hero, and he replied that he thought I would do all right. Whatever that meant. I guess he thought I wouldn't run.
In any event, one of the things that he said, that I believed, and obviously have never forgotten, is that when you are in Combat fighting, you don't think of your Mother or Father, you don't think of your Country, or your Flag, that what you think about is saving the *** of you and your Buddies.
You fight to survive, and live another day.
As I think back on that Conversation, it brings a kind of peace to me, because as I look around me, in Southern California, I see a tremendous amount of People that I don't think have any real loyalty of affection and dedication to the United States of America.
I think my observations can be verified and validated by the lack of Volunteers in the United States Military that don't reflect our New Arrivals, even though they may have become Citizens, I think primarily for the benefits available to only American Citizenship.
The Faces look just like those in WWII, the vast majority being White, with less Blacks and Hispanics. but at least they are there.
Forunately, in the time of War, such as one with China, or Russia, or both, the Draft would be activated, and just as the vast majority of those who served in WWII, Korea,and Vietnam, were drafted,they had to fight to save their own ***, as my First Sargent said, which means to me, that all those People I observe around me in Southern California, will have to Serve and Fight, whether they want to, or like to, or not.
I guess my feelings are a part of my Thanksgiving Dad.