Patriotism and Involuntary Service

March 12, 2015

This is the latest paper boat sailing down the Stream of Consciousness of Vietnam veteran, author and friend, Forrest L. Gomez, known affectionately as Old Sarge.


He was my mom’s younger brother. He was a rough character, straight out of Lampasas, Texas. Uncle Paul was pretty typical for his day: rough, profane, bigoted, chauvinistic…and incredibly tough. But he was to gain a status that few have experienced. With his story, I will show how America has lost something of great value with the passing of generations.

Many of you history geeks (like me) know that our Congress and FDR had introduced limited military conscription in the years leading up to our involvement in World War II. Nazi Germany was murdering and raping its way across Europe and North Africa, and Imperial Japan seemed intent on making China and Korea a game preserve for vultures. Although isolationism was still strong among Americans and their government, it looked like we would become involved whether we wanted war or not.

The draft was limited to one year, after which the draftee would be expected to be in the standby reserves. This draft program survived by ONE vote in 1941 in Congress, so never think your vote doesn’t count.

Uncle Paul was drafted in January of 1941 for a one year stint. His discharge date was 30, December 1941. Well, as most of you know, Pearl Harbor happened on December 7th, and as you also know, it took more than three years for things to settle down again. My Uncle Paul was in the Army from January 1941 to six months after VJ (Victory over Japan) Day in, i.e. around February 1946, because that was when his unit was officially demobilized. Do the math, and you will see that he spent considerably more time that his 365 days as a draftee in the service.

Uncle Paul was in Combat Engineers in the Pacific, and finished the war on Okinawa. He was one of the few GIs to marry a French citizen from a Free French Territory in the Pacific, which  our forces took before the Japanese. Sadly, his lovely wife would die from locked bowels less than two years after arriving in the states. My uncle had a hard life to the very end, part of it from events he could not control, and partly from his own making.

He never complained about his long, involuntary service in the Army, but he never talked about it either. To him it was part of life, something you did because you were born in and grew up in this country. There aren’t many left like him; the Greatest Generation which served not just because it was the right thing to do, but because it was the only thing to do. Those like him are passing into history, and this nation is poorer for that.

I salute you and your memory Uncle Paul!

(If you conspiracy buffs make any comment about that war, Pearl Harbor, etc. you will be blocked. I will not have you soiling the memory of my uncle with such silliness.)

May or Lord Jesus Christ walk with you daily and hear the desires of your hearts, brothers and sisters.

– The Sarge

reposted with permission of the author by  3/12/15

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