I know I need to be writing down the family history. I know their stories need to be preserved, for my children and the others in the family, and who knows–maybe someone else will be interested.
One of my favorite stories to tell is the story of Robert Turner Cobb. He was serving in the US Navy during WWII. He was part of the battle group that would invade Japan after we dropped the bombs. While he was on his ship, there was 1 (just one!) comic book circulating for the sailors to amuse themselves. Now this is the only comic book for the entire battle group. All of the sailors on all of the ships in this group shared the 1 comic book.
So my grandfather was reading it, and when he was done he was to pass it on to the next sailor. One day he was lying on his bunk, relaxing and reading, when the sirens went off. He knew this siren meant that he needed to report to a certain staircase. He quickly threw the comic at the end of his bunk, and ran for the stairs.
Once he reached the staircase, he realized he didn’t properly stow the comic book. If the other guys saw this, he would bear endless ribbing. If the comic was to be destroyed, he would not have lived it down. So he decided to return to his bunk and properly pack it in his trunk.
While he was away, a bomb hit the stairs. All of the sailors on that particular staircase where killed. Had he not left for a silly comic book, he would have died also
The Star-Ledger in NJ (I think) reported this story when it happened in 1945, but I have not yet been able to find it. If anyone out there in the blogosphere has the ability to find it, I would be most appreciative.
My paternal grandfather was not the only military veteran in the family. My father also served 9 years in the USMC with a tour to Okinawa and South Korea during the Cold War. My great aunt was in the USMC. My maternal grandfather was an Army medic driver in WWII in the North African battles against Italy. I’m sure there are others, but those are the only ones that come to mind.
My great-grandparents on both sides came through Ellis Island from Italy or Poland. Their children served this nation in the armed forces for years. I remember as a child growing up on the Naval Base at San Diego. Most beautiful location in the world, but I could never see myself in the military, except possibly to teach at a DOD school. Yet, I’m glad that my family was able to protect this nation over the years. They gave something back, and I hope that I live up to their legacy.