Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Thanksgiving Tribute to my Dad

The layout of this blog begins with a photo of the USS John C. Pope as it departs San Francisco bound for Southeast Asia. The date on the photo is unknown, but serves to illustrate my departure for Vietnam on Thanksgiving Day, 1966. As I look back on my life this voyage was the gateway event that eventually led to this blog. I cannot plea to being a decorated combat veteran. I saw my share of war and the horrors that color that world. The aftermath of Vietnam left no visible impression on me but emotionally it struck a chord deep within my soul. For years after I returned the very sight of anyone Asian left me with a sense of distress. The Fall of Saigon in 1975 only added to this feeling. Years flew by, I raised a family, got divorced, started a new family, moved on, and again found myself searching. I began to look back on my life.
My dad a World War II sailor, had left when I was five, leaving me to wonder what had happened to him and why he left. A long Internet search led me to his grave. Along the way I discovered that I had three brothers from three families that my father had started and left. Out that revelation I found the history of my father and perhaps why he lived the way he did.

Jay Wade my dad, enlisted in the Navy December 8, 1941. He was assigned to the USS Zeilin, an attack transport. His first voyage was to a little place called Guadalcanal in August of 1942. He was a gunner's mate on a 20mm. The Zeilin supported the Battle for Guadalcanal from August until November 11, 1942, on that date aircraft attacked the anchorage. The Zeilin fought back and was credited with downing one plane, two near misses ruptured the plates and she withdrew to the West Coast for repairs. Over the next two years the Zeilin carried troops to Alaska, then back to Califonia to star in the movie, Guadalcanal Diary. Then back to the South Pacific to deliver the 2nd Marine Division to a place named Tarawa. It was here that the men of the Zeilin first saw the way the war in the Pacific would be fought. In the photo above right, my father the dark haired guy, can be seen standing in the upper right side, hunched next to the life rafts. The men of the Zeilin are holding services for men killed in action at Tarawa.

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