Wednesday, November 11, 2009
I take a moment here to honor the service of my ancestors in the armed forces of the U.S. On my mothers side I have uncles who served in WW2,Korea and Vietnam.My Grandpa George W. Byers served in WW1.And I have one,James Calvert, for sure and possibly two Great Great grandfathers who served in the Civil War.James survived Andersonville prison camp. My father Vernon Ruse and two of his three brothers served in WW2.My dad spoke little about his service in the war.His discharged papers were lost when I was teen and the records burned in the Veterans fire so we have no paper trail of his service beyond the few recollections he shared and what I remember from reading his discharge papers as a child.I remember he had Bronze and Silver stars,a French sounding cross something and a Purple Heart.My father served in North Africa under Patton and was wounded and sent to England.And he was part of the march across Europe that began with D-Day.He always wished he could return and see Europe "when it wasn't tore all to hell". Manuel John Velasquez was my fathers baby half brother.He served in the Navy,my father in the Army and dads older brother Joseph Ruse in the Air Force.My uncle Stanley, Manuel's full brother was 4-f because of his vision and he worked in agriculture. I can only imagine the wonder a young man from a small valley farm town with limited education must have felt at visiting tropical posts of call. Manuel served on the U.S.S. Boise.On the evening of August 11,1942 at a place called Cape Esperance near Guadalcanal in the Pacific,the Boise engaged the enemy.The Boise sustained much damage during the battle and 107 men died.My uncle Manuel was one of them,they were all buried at sea.He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.His name is inscribed on the wall of Honor at the Manila American Cemetery and on the war memorial in Tracy CA. the town he joined up from. I only remember my dad talking about Manuel a few times,about how he got bit by a squirrel as a child and the older brothers got in trouble for not keeping a close enough watch on him!I have never seen a picture of him if one even exists.I still need to apply for his military records through the freedom of information act, as I would like more detail about his service and the night he died. I remember my father sitting in my living room about a month or so before the leukemia killed him when I was 24.I don't remember how we got on the subject but I asked about Manuel.I can still remember the way my fathers voice sounded when he said"my little baby brother Manuel." The grief,the loss,over 30 years later.Time does not heal all wounds,some losses are forever.