I was and will always be an army brat. My dad, Bill was a career army officer who started his service as a medic in World War II. His father, Alan served in World War I and our ancestor, Acors Sheffield Porter was a captain in the Civil War. There are many things I love and admire about the honor and service to country that military men and women exemplify. Indeed, I have both a young man and woman cousin who did tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thank you so much for your service and heroism. Our hearts go out to those who did not return and to their families.
My dad and his brother grew up during the depression in the 1920’s and 30’s. Al became a decorated fighter pilot and my father, who suffered from epilepsy, went into the army and became a medic. They are pictured here by the local swimming hole with no thought of what was to come. Al and Bill went to college at the University of Wisconsin, where my dad enjoyed a stint as a houseboy for a sorority. When duty called, he and his brother volunteered. My cousins have stories from Al’s tour in the Pacific, but I don’t know any. The only story I remember my father telling me was about playing poker next to the dead bodies of his friends. The stress and the gore he experienced as a field medic triggered a series of grand mal seizures, which resulted in his reassignment as a photographer. One wonders how much better that was, but he probably wasn’t covered in blood. Dad didn’t know it then, but my mother and grandmother were struggling to survive the second war that destroyed most of Vienna and what remained of my grandfather, who was captured by the Russian army in WWI and II. But for many, those years were the most vital, despite the loss of their youth and of those they loved.
My father did not adapt well to civilian life, so when he was offered a career track in the Army, he reenlisted in 1953 and was assigned to help transition the US military out of occupied Vienna, Austria. My mother always maintained that he was happiest in Vienna, enjoying the gemütlichkeit, and falling deeply in love. If not for war my parents would never have met and I wouldn’t exist. Would I give my life if it meant an end to war and peaceful resolution to our never ending conflicts? Yes, I would. There is honor in service to country, but there is no glory in war. Warning: some of the images in the video below are heartbreaking.