Today, in the USA, we celebrate our veterans. Across the country, Americans will celebrate in different ways. There will be parades. There will be help offered to widows and families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. There will be comforting for those who’s loved ones are earning the veteran’s status right now.
I’d like to honor one man. His name is Orvene Carpenter. He is my Papaw.
In the summer of 1943, my Papaw knew too well that the draft would soon come to him. His older brother Jess had been drafted just two years earlier. Then, with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, his draft was extended until the war’s end.
Knowing that he’d be drafted, my Papaw decided to join the US Marine Corps. By the following year, he was assigned to the 4th Marine Air Wing, in the Atolls. Their role was to patrol the seas for the Japanese Navy, specifically their subs. Papaw was a gunner on the rear of a SBD Dauntless dive bomber. (I had the chance to photograph one of those at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum a few months back.)
Growing up, I loved having Papaw share his stories of the war. He’d tell us of the Marines and their efforts in the South Pacific.
My Papaw is one of those last few who rose to the occasion, to defend our freedoms, from the cowardice of Nazi Germany, the Italian Fascists, and the Japanese Empire. He is one of The Great Generation. Growing up on an Arkansas farm, the son of a preacher, my Papaw was not unlike the many normal, hardworking young men from across the US who raised their hands, or were encouraged to do so, and go “over there”.
Today, take a few moments to call someone you know, who also raised their hand, to defend yours and my freedom. Today, honor a veteran near you.