happy memorial day

This morning we got to watch the most adorable parade down the street in front of my in-laws’ house – kids on bikes! and in strollers. with dogs, and streamers!

(love my ToyCam app)

Until a few years ago, we got to watch an even more special parade: the Memorial Day parade in my home town, which my grandfather marched in every year since 1946, until he passed away in 2007.

here I am watching the parade with my grandmother and my dad, 1985?

at the cemetery after the parade, May 2007; photo by my cousin (thanks Carlee)

He served in the Navy during World War II, on one of the Underwater Demolition Teams, which was the precursor to the Navy Seals. I ran across this article about him, written after my family donated his uniform to the Museums of Old York, so cool to read! Here’s a little excerpt:

In April 1944, […] the UDT created the Naval Combat Demolition Training and Experimental Base in Hawaii, where they pioneered combat swimming, closed-circuit diving, underwater demolitions and submersible operations. Eventually, 34 UDT teams were established. Wearing swim trunks, facemasks and fins — and armed only with mine detonators, hunting knives and a writing slate and pencil — these “Naked Warriors” saw action in every major amphibious landing in the Pacific. The first to set foot on an enemy island, the UDT prepared the way for the Marines to land. In the spirit of sibling rivalry, common to the Special Forces, UDT units frequently left gift cards for the invading troops. In stories to his family, Andrews recalled leaving a sign on the beach: “Welcome Marines — From the UDT.”

In February 1945, UDT-15 was stationed aboard the destroyer USS Blessman. Andrews and his team members were sent to reconnoiter the beaches at Iwo Jima, and were among the first to set foot on the island. Although they reported heavy opposition on the beach, only one man was injured. A second reconnaissance mission was conducted that afternoon, with no injuries. The next day, the UDT suffered its greatest number of casualties when the USS Blessman was struck by a Japanese bomber. When the bomb exploded in the mess hall, 15 men on the UDT team were killed and 23 were injured. According to his family, Andrews did not talk about the war often but had shared that he had “a ship shot out from under him.” What he did not tell them is that he survived what was by far the most tragic loss of life suffered by the UDT in the Pacific theater.

Six months later, his unit was one of the first to land at Hiroshima. Andrews was awarded the Bronze Star for “Heroic or Meritorious Achievement or Service” in leading the invasion of Hiroshima. {full article}

I interviewed him once for a school project, of course I have no idea what became of the notes from that conversation. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I remember he was very humble about his service, and just grateful he never had to kill anybody.

A couple photos from the way I remember him, checking on his maple trees, in.. 1994?

Here’s to you, Grampie–!

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8 Responses to happy memorial day

  1. dearwedding says:

    My Grandpa used to make the same face! The frowny, smile thing. Maybe it was a generational thing. Too funny. Thanks for sharing.

  2. ElizMarWilli says:

    This was a really sweet post. :) I enjoy!

  3. Kelsey says:

    I really loved this post, especially the part about your Grandpa marching in every parade in his uniform since 1946! Amazing! What a fantastic picture, and a great story.

    • d-day says:

      aww thanks Kelsey! :) yep he was a pretty cool guy.

    • Nettie says:

      Zenster noted:Consider these other commonplace aspects of daily Islamic life:No dogs for children to play with and learn from about unconditional love and de.voiontIndeed; while the flip side of this coin is that there are plenty of feral dogs and cats in Muslim villages, towns and even cities for Muslim children and teenagers (and probably adults too) to torture for fun (and no doubt bestiality is often involved). What in Western societies is a rare behavior indicative of sociopathy (and sometimes of incipient serial killers in the making) is a common activity in Muslim societies.

  4. Lucy McCoy says:

    My Great Uncle Pierce William “Bill” Bolden was also part of UDT#15. I’ve set up a board on Pinterest in his honor (he died 20 yrs ago), where I’m collecting links (oops “Pins”) to information about UDT #15, the SS Blessman, and other UDT groups who trained with them and where in the same combat areas. It’s at: http://pinterest.com/narnialucy.

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