On this Remembrance Day (UK) and Veterans Day (US), I am very proud to share how proud I am of the men and woman in my family that were part of the USA Armed Forces during World War 1, World War II, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am eternally grateful for the men and women that served with my family members because they all came home safely to our family.Jessie McKnight Crew #665 - Standing Left to Right: Donald Hemingway - Co Pilot; Jessie McKnight - Pilot; Edwin Martin - Navigator - Kneeling Left to Right: Jack Kasper - Engineer/Top Turret Gunner; Glenn Hill - Nose Gunner; Ben Buck - Waist Gunner; Gerald Alport - Waist Gunner; Frank Bostwick - Tail Gunner; Ben Brown - Radio Operator This crew completed a 34 mission tour. Photo Source - Thank you 466th Bomb Group (H) - Attlebridge Facebook Page
The photo above is of my Maternal Grandfather, Donald P. Hemingway. He is the handsome man standing on the left side. He was Co-Pilot of B-24, 8th USA Air Force, 466th Bomb Group and flew out of RAF Attlebridge, Norfolk England. He came home safely to my Grandmother and had 3 children including my Mother. He was a true gentleman that loved photography and travelling around Europe later in life with my Grandmother. I wish that I had asked him more about his time in England.
I am equally as proud of my Paternal Grandfather, Edward D. Smith. He was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Pacific Theatre with the USA Army. He was an Infantry Cannon Unit Commander 1945-1946. While patrolling a beach during World War II, he was injured by a piece of shrapnel from a exploding bomb. I believe that my grandmother was actually notified at first that he had been killed in action. He was badly injured but did come home to her. He was awarded a Purple Heart. I remember him as a very sweet grandfather that loved to read and made the yummiest french toast. He loved history and even wrote a book about my relative that fought in the American Civil War.
I never spoke to my grandfathers about World War II but I do have very vivid memories of them standing in the kitchen at Christmas time sharing stories with each other. They had so much respect for each for what they did during the war. I have childhood memories of my Maternal Grandfather saying "Ed, I could never had been able handle being a tank in the South Pacific" and my Paternal Grandfather would say in response "But Don, I could never have handled being in an airplane flying over Germany". These two men were extraordinary as individuals and as my grandfather.
I am very proud of my "Baby Brother" that is a veteran of USA Army. He served two tours in Iraq. His first tour in Iraq started with parachuting into Northern Iraq on March 26, 2003 as part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade "Sky Soldiers" that were stationed out of Vincenza, Italy. I will be forever grateful for the men and women that kept my brother safe during his time in Iraq. I know there were moments that we almost lost him. He will be never forget the men that he lost from his unit.
I need to give a mention about my Maternal Great-Grandparents. My Great-Grandfather, Nick, was Captain in the USA Army serving in France during World War I. My spirited Grand-Grandmother, aka "Mickey", was a Lieutenant in the USA Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington as a nurse during the Influenza Pandemic in 1918. She lived until 103 years old. She wanted to be sent over to Europe during World War I but they said she was too pretty and needed to stay at home.
I am very proud of these brave men and woman that faced challenges that I never experience or understand. Since living in England, I have learnt so much more about the bravery of the whole population of the United Kingdom and Ireland during World War II. I don't know much about my husband's family during World War II but I can not even begin to imagine what is was like to face the possibility of bombs dropping on or near their homes.
Thank you to the USA Armed Forces and British Armed Forces past and present that fight for freedom of people around the world and protect my family in England and USA.