By Dick Rennick, CFE
This story is about a family of veterans…Father, four brothers, two nephews who served in two world wars, Korea, Vietnam and more. My/our father served in WW1 and gave many years of service after the war to both God and our country. He served in the US Navy and then finished up his service as a Marine. He was called back for WW11 for two years until his age and WW1 injuries caught up to him. Our oldest brother enlisted into the Marine Air Corps. He was 23 years older than me. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and brought down one enemy plane with an M1 carbine while guarding a hidden munitions ammo depot. I was not born when this happened…He served in the war flying Patrol Bombers (PBY’s) in the South Pacific doing recon missions with no on board machine guns except for two on board pistols for the pilot and co-pilot to use in case of emergency…go figure…he flew many missions taking surveillance pictures and was shot down several times but came back time after time to fly the oceans of the Pacific keeping track of the enemy fleets for our military.
My next oldest brother left high school one year early and joined the US Marines. He was a rather large fellow and no one wanted to mess with this country boy while in school or out. He was one of the many soldiers who landed at Inchon one of the first major landings into Korea. He died early in life from injuries he could not get over both mentally and medically while serving in Korea. He lived into his early fifties and was always a Marine.
The next brother joined the US Navy to see the world. He was not battle hardened however; he took the “H” bomb to Eniwetok and took that island out of the South Pacific. He died later in life being stab to death while being treated for medical conditions from over exposure to the radiation from the H bomb where many military soldiers were ask to have their backs to the explosion testing the body results from this encounter.
Being the youngest of four brothers, I was left to fend for myself on the family farm in the early fifties into the very early sixties. One late evening while attending the county fair in our home county, one of the spectacles that was touted to happen was a person being buried in a manmade grave of sorts while they placed sixteen sticks of dynamite around him and they blew up the dynamite with him in the ground. My mother, youngest sister and I were seated at the top of the grand stands waiting for this to happen. Our father/husband was off talking to other friends, vets and farmers. I turned my head long enough to see Dad walking our way when the sixteen sticks of dynamite exploded. WOW, never have I observed any one move so fast as he scaled the back of the grandstands and got me, mom and sis and had us down onto the ground and safe under the grandstands in no time where he covered all of us with his body protecting us from???
When he realized what had happened he got up and began crying and we all consoled him as this is the first time any of us experienced this thing called, “Shell Shocked.” We all forgot about this or at least tried. Being a kid, when the 4th of July rolled around, most of us youngsters ran about our very small town lighting off firecrackers. We would always lit off fire crackers around Mr. Mienke as we thought it was great fun to watch him when the fire cracker ignited close to him as he always ran for cover and then came out a few minutes later shaking and tearing up.
Dad found us and well, spankings were in order all around. At that time we all learned much more about our veteran friends and family and from that point on, we helped to protect them from this stupidity and always helped them when asked and or needed.
My nephew served in the Marines during the Vietnam era. He came home from Nam, went to college where he earned his PHD in Nuclear Physics. He taught college until his untimely death due to injuries from Vietnam.
One never knows what will come about when you serve your country, while making lifelong friends at the same time. As you are under fire looking for a hole to crawl into or a tree to hide behind/under or holding your best friend while he lay bleeding profusely as he was dying in your arms but you not knowing that was happening at the time…
Thank God for our military, our veterans and what they have done for this country since the beginning. Just walk the cemeteries of the Midwest, Northeast, Southwest and so on to see those who are, were and should be remembered for being the ones that made our country safe. Yes, we have veterans and past military folks that may have been affected by being shell shocked to post-traumatic stress disorder to blood and other health disorders like missing body parts and the list goes on.
Most franchisors and their staff relish the possibilities of having these folks on their team from cleaning carpets, to serving ice cream to doing window washing and handy person work and over 100+ other franchise industry opportunities…These are the folks that gave their ALL for AMERICA and will continue to do so until the day they are asked home to their God.
Dick Rennick is a Past IFA Chairman