Honoring The Veterans In My Life, Past And Present

[ 7 ] November 11, 2013 |

This Veteran’s Day, I want to honor the veterans in my life, along with all who have or are currently serving in our military and their families. These brave men and women paid for the freedoms we hold so dear with their blood, sweat and tears. Our soldiers don’t all come back the same as they were when they left. Some don’t come back at all.

I thank them all for both their service and their sacrifices.

Nearly every male member of my family on my dad’s side has served this country. Though in my generation, the number is very small. My paternal Grandpa fought in WWI and all three of his and Grandma Jennie’s boys fought in a war. My dad and Uncle Bill fought in WWII and the youngest, Uncle Bobby, fought in Korea.  My Uncle Bill, who I sometimes believe was totally crazy, served in the Navy, just like his oldest brother, during the war. Then he joined the Army the same day he took Uncle Bob to sign up. He then got shipped to Alaska and has regretted signing up for a second branch of the military ever since! My father-in-law fought in Vietnam.

This is my paternal Grandpa, Everett Spencer. This picture was taken in the early 1920’s in Long Beach, CA — before my dad was born. Granddad was serving aboard the USS Colorado at the time.

Grandpa Smith Navy Restored_WM

The Hubs served at the tail-end and very beginning of two different wars. He joined the Air Force when Desert Storm was winding down and separated just after the war in Iraq began. It is because of this reason that he does not consider himself a veteran. To him, a vet is someone who fought in a war, not a C130/C141 pneumatics mechanic whose military career was mostly during peacetime. Though his employer, for the first time in seventeen years, is honoring their employee vets today. He had me scan and email his Air Force picture to the HR department because, as he said , “They’re giving me a free meal, so why not?”

This is the Hubs in uniform. He was so very young! He had more hair back then, but he’s still just as handsome.


This is a photo of the E Division of the USS Ticonderoga — the aircraft carrier where my dad almost lost his life — in September 1945. He was part of the maiden crew of this great ship. Daddy was only EIGHTEEN years old when this picture was taken, had already been in the Navy for three years and survived TWO kamikaze attacks in the South China Sea, several hundred miles east of Formosa, on January 21, 1945. He’d forged fudged his birth certificate to say he was born in 1926 instead of 1927. Back then, you only needed to be 16 years old to join the military.

I find it interesting that the first ship my father served on was built in the shipyard of his hometown, Newport News, VA. Had he taken a different path, he may have been one of the people building this ship instead of serving on it. Though it turns out that a few of his cousins and uncles actually were on the crews that built the Big T.

My dad is in the 4th row (from top), 7th from the left in the white cap.

This is what the USS Ticonderoga looked like after the kamikaze attack. My father was on that flight deck somewhere saving his fellow shipmates’ lives while fighting for his own. He was only seventeen years old at the time – his birthday wasn’t until March. This attack caused nearly every bone in his face to be broken, the loss of most of his front teeth and head injuries.

Photo courtesy of the National Naval Aviation Museum

From NavWeaps.com:


USS Ticonderoga CV-14
21 January 1945:  Kamikaze crashed through her flight deck abreast of the No. 2 5-inch mount with a bomb exploding just above her hangar deck.  Several planes stowed nearby were caught in the explosion and set on fire.  Damage and water from firefighting created a 10-degree list to starboard, requiring counterflooding to correct.  Captain Kiefer instituted a unique damage control operation by instructing the damage control party to continue flooding compartments on Ticonderoga’s port side until she took on a 10-degree list to port.  This swing from a starboard to a port list neatly dumped the burning planes overboard.  Shortly after this performance, a second kamikaze struck the carrier’s starboard side near the island.  This bomb set more planes on fire, riddled her flight deck, and injured or killed another 100 sailors, including Capt. Kiefer.  A total of 143 men were killed and 202 injured from the two attacks.  The crew brought her fires completely under control not long after 1400, about two hours after the first Kamikaze hit.  Sent to Puget Sound Navy Yard where she arrived on 15 February.  Repairs were completed on 20 April 1945 and she departed the next day to rejoin the fleet, striking at the Marshall Islands in early May.

I just found these two videos on YouTube. One is actual footage of the attack on the Ticonderoga and the other is a newsreel of the ship returning to San Francisco, CA on October 5, 1945. I did not know that the second video even existed until today. There is a scene from the movie “Midway” that shows a kamikaze attack on what is supposed to be the main ship of the movie — if memory serves me right — however, the actual footage used is of the Ticonderoga being hit. My dad did not know this existed until he saw it in the movie and recognized the number on the flight deck (14) as the number of his aircraft carrier. This revelation really did a number on him. If I can find the video on YouTube, I’ll post it here.


I wish my Daddy had known this footage existed before he died. He’s somewhere on that deck. I wish I knew where.

All gave some,

but some gave all.

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Category: Family

About the Author ()

I'm Shan and I 'm the creator of The Asylum and a magnet for The Free Range Stupid™. I'm a little nutty, a lot sarcastic and pretty damn smart. I am also a graphic designer, blog coder, virtual assistant, free lance writer and can whip you up a killer resume, media kit or press release that would make others green with envy. Go to Skewed Design Studios to check out my services. You won't be disappointed.

Comments (7)

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  1. Susan says:

    Great post. I love all the old pictures you have, especially of your grandpa.

  2. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing.
    Ellen Christian recently posted..Gluten Free Bread Recipe & Understanding Soy LecithinMy Profile

  3. MommaDJane says:

    I love the old photos. What memories! and honorable ones at that.
    MommaDJane recently posted..15 Thanksgiving Centerpieces for the HomeMy Profile

    • Shan says:

      Thank you. My dad was one-of-a-kind. I miss him every day.

      • Garrett Keenan says:

        Hello Shan I was browsing through the internet and through a stroke of luck or fate I found this website a few months back….my grandfather served aboard the “Tico” in the E division and seated right next to the left of your father i that picture…( his name was Robert Keenan) so please please please respond to this or anybody else with leads

        • Shan says:


          I don’t have much information. My dearly-loved father died of metastasized bone cancer in 1992. All I have left are photos, a few videos, and the stories my few living relatives that grew up with Daddy can tell me. My uncle, my Dad’s younger brother, knew the most about his life during the war, but he died almost two years ago. One thing I do know for sure is that no one from the maiden crew of the Ticonderoga called it the “Tico.” It was always called the Big T.

  4. Garrett Keenan says:

    Hello My name is Garrett Keenan I was randomly browsing the Ticonderoga pictures on the internet because my grandfather also served on the “Tico” in WWII from its christening in Newport News to the end of the War far in the pacific. reading the comments from the original poster it turns out my GRANDFATHER was only two sailors down from your father and in the same row and division!! As is likely with all places my grandfather went he is and will always be remembered so it may not be a coincidence that your father may know my grandfather.

    Garrett Keenan

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