Sunday, November 11, 2012

On Veteran's Day :: Honoring The Military Men In My Family

My dad after WWII...he attended The University of Texas on the GI Bill and became a Geologist for Union Oil Company of California...
Remembering my Dad

Skiing in the Italian Alps at the close of WWII...I'm pretty sure his ship never engaged the enemy...
Remembering my Dad

My dad was in the Navy, a "Signalman". The guy who flashed the bright light in Morse Code to communicate to other ships. That's about all I know. I'm wishing now that I had talked to him more about this time in his life. We were close - we had a good relationship - but I regret not "knowing" him better. I'm sure he was full of stories. He was full of poetry that he could recite from memory. "Gunga Din" by Rudyard Kipling was a favorite, and lots of Robert Service. I still keep the book of Robert Service poetry close by - my mom & dad gave it to me for Christmas or my birthday one year during high school. "The Cremation Of Sam McGee" is one that I almost know by heart. My dad also introduced me to Jack London's novels, and lots of other literature long forgotten, I'm sure.

I remember going to his office as a little kid. Back in those days it was stacks and stacks of maps and well logs. I remember playing with his slide-rule, and triangles and drawing and drafting implements. I still have one of his leather shot filled map weights on my desk. I also still have most of his drafting stuff. In a box. Somewhere.

It's been thirty years since his death from lung cancer - thirty years this past April. I still miss him. I miss knowing him. I miss not knowing him.

He was a good man.

My grandfather, Felix Alex Todd, Jr. was a Lt. Colonel in the Army. I never met him. He died in a military plane crash on June 30, 1943. My mom was 11 or 12 years old at the time. My uncle (her brother) was 6 or 7 I would guess.

All I know is the stories my mom has told me. That he died in a plane crash and that sabotage was suspected. That he had something to do with the establishment of the Officer's Candidate School. That he was stationed in the Phillipines for a time - where my mom was born. And then stationed in Panama - where my uncle was born. Then to Fort Benning in Georgia. Then after that I don't know. They may have lived in the D.C. area up until he died. I'm not sure.

My grandfather in the early 1900's...he was born in 1905...
My maternal grandfather :: Felix Alex Todd, Jr.

Graduation Photograph - Westpoint - July 1923
Felix Graduation

Felix Alex Todd, Jr.

Newspaper clipping
Lt. Col. Felix Alex Todd, Jr.  newspaper clipping

And as it turns out, there is one more military man in my lineage that I should pay respects to. My 5th Great Grandfather (on my mother's side) was John William Smith aka William John Smith, born in 1792 in Virginia. He ended up being one of the messengers at the Battle of the Alamo, and served as the first mayor of San Antonio - two terms I believe. He also became a Senator representing the Bexar District (San Antonio and environs) of The Republic of Texas.

So obviously he wasn't in the United States military - it was the Texas Revolution, The Battle of the Alamo - but still, I want to remember and honor him, as well.

Here's a link if you want to read more him:

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