I just read your entry on your grandfather while looking for info on my uncle. He was one of the men killed on the Saranac that day. He was 19 and his name was Cyril Desmarais (a radioman). Yesterday (the Fourth of July) I thanked him for his sacrifice so long ago. I was only 7 months old when he died but still have letters he wrote my mother. thanks for your touching entry.
First of all, Happy Veterans’ Day! I can’t imagine this country without the sacrifice of so many brave men and women starting with the Revolutionary War to the present day. The families of these Veterans have made huge sacrifices themselves – time spent apart from serving family members, Moms/Dads playing dual roles, homes forever on the move at the beck and call of the US Military. To get a glimpse of what it looks like to be the matriarch of a military family, check out my video interview with Julie McBride. The interview is to remind us all to continue to pray for the serving men and women and the families they love.
Now, to honor the man who has forever been a hero in my eyes. My veteran, my grandfather.
You can call him “Pa,” too. I know he doesn’t mind.
In 1944 (and just under 20 years old), he was a Navy sailor serving on the USS Saranac, a fleet oiler, when it was bombed by a Japanese aircraft in World War II.
The Saranac was making its third run to Pearl Harbor for the battling fleet’s fuel when a bomb hit causing damage to the fire room. An explosion took the life of one of his friends and left Pa critically injured. Nine men on the USS Saranac were lost in that attack.
There could have been ten.
But, God saw fit to let him return home physically whole after a five-month hospitalization–with the only exception being shrapnel embedded in his skin and the “Mother”-with-rose tattoo rendered unrecognizable.
He married his beautiful wife and has raised three daughters, four grandkids, and five great-grandchildren.
He received a purple heart in Hawaii in 1945 for service to our country.
As an 8-year-old kid, I wrote an essay that he keeps to this day in an album. I’ve never gotten tired of hearing his stories of the War. I was elated when just recently I found a few roll call records at muster stations while he was aboard the USS Saranac on Ancestry.com. If you haven’t searched the military records for your own veterans, you should. It’s absolutely grounding. What a legacy there is for you to discover!
From the bottom of my heart, Pa, thank you for your service.
You are the kind of man they just don’t make anymore.
Got stories and thoughts about your own family military veterans? Share them in the comments below.