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Sharon Celebrates Her Dad on Veteran’s Day

Anderson and Papa 2
Photo by Sharon Buck

Growing up in a family of 9 all of us vied for our father’s attention. Dad worked nights and Mom worked days so time spent with each of them was sometimes hard to get. But we all got it.

And some of the best memories I have are listening to the stories from my dad.

My dad is a veteran…and proud of it.

My dad served in the US Navy on the USS Newport News. He served in the Korean War. He never talked much about it. He used to mention a few of his buddies that served along side him.

The story he told most often was that he spent 18 months in a Naval hospital recovering from the wounds he sustained from gunfire on his right knee. You see, the bullets he incurred blew his knew apart. It took surgery after surgery to be able to attach the leg together and keep it that way. While he was there he learned how to be a phlebotomist. While in his wheelchair, he used to help the nurses with the other patients. Being in a hospital for 18 months he needed SOMETHING to do!

He has had surgery after surgery and, to this day, his leg does not bend. In fact, he has a disease that deteriorates the bone in his knee. He must be very careful. This was pretty distressing news for the man who used to be the roller rink attendant and used to be able to do so many different tricks.

But just because his leg can’t bend didn’t mean he didn’t teach us children many things dads always do. There was the time when my little sister, Jenny, and I got brand new bicycles in the beginning of the Summer. We didn’t know how to ride but my dad showed us he could still ride a bike with one good leg.

Dad never talked about his wartime experience. We tried asking him a few times but we weren’t answered. We figured out that a soldier and his experience are a private pain sometimes. No one can explain what a soldier goes through when they are in combat. Therapists and doctors can try to explain but what a soldier feels can only be told by them.

The coolest thing that ever happened was about 16 years ago. When I was singing with the karaoke band Touch of Country we were doing a 4th of July show at the Waterville Opera House. I needed a sailor’s uniform for the Village People’s song ‘In the Navy’. I asked my dad if I could borrow his. We took his uniform out of my mom’s trunk and it was Navy blue and wool. I tried it on and it fit me perfectly! My dad was totally amazed!!

He wound up buying me a uniform of my own, the whites, and all the patches for me to wear for the program! That’s the only time I’ll ever wear a military uniform. I know I couldn’t do what all the veterans have done before me and after. Thank you to all veterans this Veteran’s Day!

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