Allow me to introduce you to three members of my family who served in the US military:
Robert E. Whiteley, my grandfather, was inducted in the US Army in 1941, just 19 days after he married my grandmother. Even though he had never fired a gun, he received the Expert medal on the 300-yard rifle range. He was then transferred to the US Army Air Corps (now the US Air Force) where he served in the Operations section of the 3rd scouting force, the Fighting Scouts, during World War II. He was stationed in the European theater and was discharged in 1945.
Robert B. Whiteley, my father, also served in the Air Force. He enlisted in 1969 after graduating from Sam Houston State College and served in the accounting department of the mortuary, which was where he met my mother. (Romantic, huh?) In August 1971, he was transferred to Tan Son Nhut Air Force Base, Republic of Vietnam, where he served until 1972. He was discharged in 1973 and received numerous awards and citations.
Ed Becton, my father-in-law, participated in ROTC at Savannah High School and the University of Georgia and entered the US Army as a 2nd lieutenant. He was company commander at Ft. Jackson, SC, where he led a basic training company. He joined the US Army Reserves, where he taught at the Command and General Staff College and Officer Advance Courses for 12 years. During Vietnam, his aerial delivery company was held in reserve in case the Russians attacked Europe. He retired from the US Army Reserves as a lieutenant colonel (just two ranks before the generals).
Thank you all for your service. I love you all, and I miss you, Grandpa.
*A version of this post was originally published for July 4, 2011.