Saturday, October 25, 2014

One of the interesting things I spoke of with an uncle of mine was about my father's post-war adjustment.

I won't get into his career except to say he got booted out of primary fighter training for rat-shack racing and hedge-hopping. I later found out that the school actually booted people out at random for that to set an example keep this sort of stuff to a minimum. His turn, I guess.

Truth is they WANTED fearless wildmen in the skies. They wanted guys that would attack forces several times their size without thinking about it.

Anyway, he became a bombardier and flew. Bombardiers were generally officers and officers were treated much better than enlisted men.

Dad was typical of the generation that lit up the skies. He was a high school graduate with an aptitude for math and physics. The army crammed a couple of years of this into him in just a few months.

Prior to his entry into the service he played jazz to make a few bucks in night clubs while attending high school. Clarinet and sax. Today this would be like a high school kid playing in a rock band a couple nights a week while attending classes during the day.

Anyway, like a lot of guys, dad got pretty used to being treated like an officer in the few short years he flew during WW2. He ate in the officer's mess and drank in the officer's club. His details and duties did not include things like guard duty, mess duty, cleaning grease pits and digging ditches.

He would sometimes oversee things like this as officer of the day or other duties that were handed to young officers. Actually, when a flyboy was on the ground he had a pretty good life, considering. He generally lived better than the enlisted guys did.

Upon discharge he was pretty much thrown to the wolves. Truth is, it was a pretty big fall. The relative ease of an officer's life was thrown to the wind and he was left to shift for himself. He was just another discharged GI with a high school diploma looking for something to do to feed himself.

Dad did resume playing jazz for a brief period and he got by. Still, he was simply another former GI and nobody cared if a guy was a former private or a former colonel. He was just another guy looking for a job.

In the movie The Best Years of our Lives, Dana Andrews plays a recently discharged bombardier and to some extent it paralleled my dad's transition. Andrews played a discharged bombardier that was a decorated captain that returned to his pre-war job as a soda jerk.

Andrews' character also saw that the B-17s he flew were obsolete, being scrapped and were a part of history. He knew that even if he returned to the Air Corps there wouldn't be a B-17 bombardier's job for him.

Dad eventually went back to school under the GI bill and then later on went to college at Northeastern, graduating in 1957. In January '51 he married mom and in November '51 he started doing what he was put on this earth to do.

He was sent here to raise a family.

When I was an infant he worked in a few manigerial and sales positions but didn't like the headaches and found a job fixing cars as a mechanic and flipping a few used cars on the side.

Unlike the white collar jobs he worked at, being a wrench for hire gave him the time to do the job of raising kids right.

Still, he had a pretty hard time adjusting to life after a hitch as an officer and gentleman and it was interesting hearing it from my uncle later on when I was just out of the service. 

Interestingly enough, during the Cuban missile crisis Dad, along with a lot of vets was terrified of being called back into service. He said he'd be damned if he'd go in as a private.

Like the Dana Andrews character, Dad knew there were no more B-29s left to fly and hence no officer flight jobs for him. 

I was enlisted and believe had a much easier adjustment than he did. I guess I just knew I'd have to bust my ass doing something somewhere when I was discharged.

To find out why the blog is pink just cut and paste this: NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN THE WRITING OF TODAY'S ESSAY

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