As I am posting this my Dad, Harry Gifford, is on an Honor flight to Washington DC to visit the World War II Memorial and other sites. I have always wanted to take my Dad to visit the memorial but could never figure out the logistics. I read about an honor flight somewhere on Active Rain and decided to do a Google check and see if there was anything like that in the Denver area.
Sure enough I found the Rocky Mountain Honor Flight. I printed off the applicationand put it in the mail to him. Shortly after receiving his application someone from the honor flight called him and told him that the flights this fall were fairly full. When they found out that he was in World War II for almost 5 years, was at the Battle of the Bulge is now 93 years old and is totally ambulatory they found a space for him. It worked out great. My Mother's 85th birthday was on the 14th so he was able to be with her for her birthday and then take off for the weekend in DC. He left this morning (Friday) and gets back on Sunday evening. They have another flight the middle of October but that would not have worked out as they leave for their winter home in Mesa Arizona on October 11th.
You heard me right my Dad at 93 years of age and my Mother at 85 years of age still spend 6 months in Colorado and 6 months in Arizona. My Dad drives them back and forth and I would get in the car with him any day. He is still an incredible driver. He got a lot of practice during World War II as his job in the Army was to drive a supply truck to the front line. He would drop the kitchen off and then would spend the rest of the time picking up more supplies or taking troops back and forth to the front line. He said that often he would get where he was going only to find that the front line had been moved. In the video below he describes one of my favorite stories. (To be honest he did not take about the war until just the past few years and that was with a lot of prodding on our part.)
I was amazed to find out that he was drafted in to the Army prior to Pearl Harbor. I only found that out a few years ago. After getting drafted he called his 4 brothers and them and told them if they wanted to choose the branch of the service they wanted to be in they had best enlist rather than be drafted.
The picture to the left are the Gifford boys. Two of them were in the Army, two were in the Air Force and one was in the Navy. All of them came home safe and sound. My Dad's oldest brother stayed in the reserves and at the time was told he would not be called up and if he was would not go to the front line. As it turns out that was not true and he died on the front lines in the Korean War. My Dad was the second to the oldest and is the only one of his siblings that is still living. (He also had an older sister.)
The entire time that my Dad was in the Army he did not receive any letters from home. My Grandparents were doing all they could to survive and back then there was of course not Internet access and letters were not something that made it to the front line. My parents are from the same small town in Kansas but when he left for the war my Mother was just a young girl. He does not know about this but we have all written letters to him and Sunday on the way back home they will be having a mail call and he will finally be receiving letters from home thanking him for his service. He will have 7 letters to read.
We are by no means a military family but we are a family with a long history of serving our country when needed. Between my husband's family and my family my daughter and I figured out that we have had someone in almost every war since the Revolution. The only one that we could not come up with was the War of 1812. The most recent addition to that history is our son who served as an Intelligence Analyst with the Army. He was in for the same length of time as my Dad 4 years 10 months serving two tours of Iraq. He got out a year ago June and is now a sophomore at Texas A&M in Ocean Engineering. In his letter he tells my Dad that him being in the Army had a lot to do with our son's decision to join that branch of the service.
When my Dad came back from the war my Mother was all grown up. They met up in Kinsely Kansas and the rest is history. They have now been married for almost 63 years. This weekend will be the first time they have been separated for any length of time since I can't remember when.
I have been blessed to have wonderful parents. I always say I had an Ozzie and Harriet upbringing and I'm so blessed to still have them.
If you have any World War II Veterans in your family you might want to check the honor flights in their area. Looking for this one I just did a Google seach. You might think about donating to an honor flight also as they are a 501 C3 and are able to do this from our donations. My parents live on a fixed income so never would have been able to afford this trip but it is not costing my Dad anything. I am thrilled that this is something that can be given back to him and all these other men and women who served us. Freedom is not FREE!!
Copyright © 2010 Marchel Peterson, All Rights Reserved. *My Dad - My Hero!!*