Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Month of Memories - December 14th

Today I remember my Grandpa Carlson.  He died two years ago today, after a long fight with heart disease.  He had a triple bypass the year I was born, if that gives you any idea.  Grandpa Carlson was my mom's dad and when he remarried back in the early 1970's, he married a lady who was studying to become an LPN, who after they were married became a registered nurse.  My Grandma Rose undoubtedly kept my Grandpa alive and living a good life for many years.  She is a treasure.

Grandpa and Grandma lived in Miami, FL for as long as I was alive, so we couldn't just "pop" over for a visit.  However, they did come see us most years and those visits were always a highlight for me and my siblings.  Grandpa was a jokester and loved nothing better than spouting nonsensical things, such as referring to the telephone as the "smell-a-phone" or telling us that we should "run both ways and hurry back."  He was always making us laugh and smile.

I only regret that my Grandpa was never able to meet any of my children.  He was so sick in later years that bringing young children for a visit would have been too much stress on him.  So, I sent videos and pictures quite often, and they occasionally talked on the phone to him.  They know he was a wonderful man, and a Navy World War II hero.  He was actually a mechanic on a ship, the U.S.S. Bowers, in the Pacific that was kamikazed. At dawn on 16 April, the destroyer escort shot down one attacking Japanese plane. Then at 09:30, two more planes came in, flying low and fast. Bowers maneuvered radically to avoid the planes as they split to attack the escort. The first came in dead ahead, but Bowers' guns brought it down. The second passed over the ship as her port guns came to bear. Despite the heavy gunfire, the kamikaze regained altitude, turned, and came in from a 45-degree angle forward. It crashed into the warship's flying bridge, spraying high octane gasoline over the bridge and pilot house. The plane's bomb penetrated the pilot house and continued down through the ship for 20 feet before it exploded and sprayed the deck with fragments. Fire fighting parties brought the flames under control in about 45 minutes; but 37 men from the ship were killed, 11 were reported missing, and many of her 56 wounded died later.  All told, about half the men on the ship were wounded or killed.  Thankfully my Grandpa survived, otherwise I wouldn't be here today.

Here is the U.S.S. Bowers with the crashed plane on the flying bridge.

My Grandpa with Liz and I in 1996.

Philip and I were able to visit my Grandparents in February of 2003, so I am grateful that at least Philip met Grandpa.  I don't have a picture of that visit scanned, but here is my Grandpa on his 80th birthday, in January 2004.

We love you, Grandpa!  Thanks for being a wonderful part of our family for many years!

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