Heading Home…

Last night, as we often do on Sundays, Motor Man and I had dinner with his parents. Although we always offer to help with dishes, his parents prefer that we just visit and insist on doing the dishes after we leave.

Motor Man and I cleared the table and sat back down to chat. We noticed his dad had taken an ink pen from his pocket and was quietly writing on the corner of a napkin. Motor Man asked: “What are you figuring, Pop?”. His dad replied: “67 years ago, I left France.”.

(A little background information, some of which I may have shared before. Motor Man’s parents {Mom and Pop} were married on June 6, 1942. She was 15, he was 20. Two years later, in the months before Motor Man was born, Pop was drafted and sent to boot camp in Texas.

Once boot camp was over, en route to New York, Pop managed a quick visit with his wife and two-day old son (Motor Man). On to New York, where Pop boarded the Queen Mary, being used as a troop ship, and sailed overseas to defend our country during World War II.)

Back to last night:

Pop is a man of few words, so I jumped at the opportunity to ask questions. I learned that it was May 6, 1946, when, after completing his service in World War II, Pop left France headed for home.

pop as soldier_Snapseed

Sketch of Pop, done by a fellow soldier during WWII

I took out my cell phone and began taking notes. Pop, who made the rank of Corporal, sailed from France on the “Wheaton Victory”, arriving in New York on May 15. (I researched and found that the Wheaton Victory was one of 550 Victory ships mass produced by six shipyards in the U.S. from February 1944 through November 1945.)

sswheatonvictory

SS Wheaton Victory (internet photo)

According to Pop, the soldiers were wearing their “OD’s” (olive drabs), and Ike jackets.  From New York, they went on to Ft. Meade, Maryland, where they were issued new uniforms.

Pop then caught a ride to Richmond, Virginia with another soldier, whose parents had come to meet him and take him home.  From Richmond, Pop took the bus to Newport News, arriving home late at night on May 19. His wife knew that he was due home soon, but had no idea exactly when to expect him. (I’ve often said I would love to have been a fly on the wall when she answered that knock on the door.)

mom pop wedding day 6-4-2007 8-22-52 PM

It’s easy to understand why May 6 is a memorable date in Pop’s life; he was heading home.

home of the brave 5-5-2011 7-56-12

Thanks, Pop. Job well done.

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28 responses to “Heading Home…

  1. What a sweet story! That drawing is wonderful – and I noticed that photo of Motor Man with you on your sidebar looks a LOT like his young Dad….a WHOLE lot…..right down to the smile.

    Happy Monday!
    Pam

  2. How wonderful he came home just in time for their anniversary. A WWII homecoming is a memory for sure. Rick still remembers coming home from Viet Nam.

  3. One of the first pictures I remember seeing of Motor Man’s “Pop” I noticed right away he had on an Infantry cap and of course knew he was a veteran. We owe so much to those men and women. Very sweet story and sweet he shared so much with you about May 6th. The sketch, what a gift. Love the picture of the two of them and the last picture Dianna is a sweet portrait.

  4. What a wonderful story! Great memories…and the photo of Pop on the beach is priceless!

  5. Mr. Keen is such a fascinating man. This story is a wonderful testament. Great post today Dianne.

  6. What a wonderful tribute to such a sweet man..and to all the men and women who fight and fought to keep us free!

  7. Please thank your father-in-law for me. These men saved the world.

  8. Great story Dianne! I am forwarding to Will and Ruth. 🙂

  9. A wonderful tribute to a great soldier, and a fascinating love story too. I love the drawing and the photos bring the story to life. Thanks so much for sharing this. 🙂

  10. One of the wonderful things about your “Pop” stories are the details that he provides such as the OD’s. These little details bring such depth to his stories. He is a fascinating man and it is wonderful that you are there to capture them in writing.

  11. bless him for his service. what a wonderful sketch of him! wow!

  12. Love this – what stories and memories he carries with him. I melt every time I see that last pic of him (or similar!) …and that sketch – wow! What a treasure!

  13. Great post, Dianna! That sketch is wonderful to have!

  14. A job well done, indeed! What a wonderful story, Dianne!

  15. Great story and pictures. Good for you for preserving a little slice of his past. Family history often gets forgotten.

  16. Texas’ human here.
    I am always interested and moved when I read stories about American soldiers who went to Europe during WWII.
    My mother was born in Paris during WWII and unfortunately, lost her father when she was still a baby. My grandparents were originally from Poland. My grandmother had to raise my mom alone. She would always tell us how the Americans helped her and she had plenty of fond memories about Americans. She worked with American army doctors (not sure how they are called) who were in and around Paris at the time. Even my mom remembers, as a child, Americans distributing candy to French children. And how the candy was beautiful and how she treasured it.
    It is sad that not all French people today are grateful for the help Americans offered us so many times. Many Americans were kids, fighting for the world’s freedom. Our family is forever thankful.
    Can I ask you for a favor? Next time you see Motor Man’s parents, can you say thank you from my mom and I? My grandmother passed away several years ago now, but I know she would have seized the opportunity to say thank you, too.
    Carine

    • Oh, Carine, what a sweet comment. Pop actually received a certificate of thanks from the French Consulate in Washington, D.C. a few years ago. Perhaps I’ll write a post about that soon.
      I’ll be sure to pass along your sweet message to my in-laws. Thank you.

  17. mollieandalfie

    What a fantastic drawing of Pop, super handsome 🙂 Which we had lots of history, we only have a tiny family xx00xx

    Mollie and Alfie

  18. mollieandalfie

    Meant wish..LOL xx

  19. Another one of your top posts … What a fantastic story. I love that line: “67 years ago, I left France..”
    Thank you, Pop!
    Excellent job …….

  20. What a great thing that you got him to talk about it and write it down! That is a piece of invaluable family history!
    Thanks for sharing it with use!

  21. Shirley Matthews Dunn

    What a great family story, Dianna. I know JR is very proud of his Father.
    Rightly so. Pop is a very special person, you can see it in his face. God bless your In-Laws.

  22. Wonderful story! And a most heartfelt thank you to “Pop” for his service to our country. Our veterans’ stories need to be preserved and you’ve done a great thing by helping do so!

  23. I can’t really add any meaningful comments to all that has already been written. This was one of your best posts — and about a courageous and patriotic American — the epitomy of The Greatest Generation. I’m so thankful you shared his story with us!

  24. Great family story. He has a good memory. That must have been some homecoming, not like today’s with all the communication devices.

  25. I agree with the other commenters. What a wonderful story! Your father-in-law is a really special person.

  26. This brought me to tears.

    Beautiful!
    MJ

  27. Is he still alive?

    My grandfather was on this ship, on this day. He also was in TX for boot camp prior to the war.

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