Homecoming, Reflections, and Epilogue
I do not recall the day or any special events leading up to the time he got home from the time Dad wrote his last letter. I am sure there must have been some discussion about Dad’s homecoming but I do not recall any single event except Christmas morning of 1954.
We had as usual put up a tree and had plenty of presents underneath. I was as excited as a second grader would be for Christmas morning. My grandfather and grandmother were not happy at all. A sadness permeated their face. I was eager to open my presents and was allowed to do so, but they told me that they wanted to wait and open theirs when Dad got home. I remember thinking why would they want to wait with all those packages just begging to be opened. I cannot recall any particular present I got that year. It would be a nice touch to this narrative for me to say the best present I got that year was Dad coming home and it was but only in retrospect.
While I was playing with whatever I got Mama and Baba just sort of went about their business trying to pass the time away and even going to the front door now and then to see who had just pulled up in front of the house. I remember Baba going out in the front yard just standing their smoking cigarettes looking up and down the street while Mama busied herself in the kitchen.
I don’t know how long it was after Christmas when Dad did arrive, but it must not have been that long, like two or three days, because I was still on vacation from school and was allowed to stay up late at night.
My grandfather was working the night shift at Westinghouse and Mama was in the kitchen when I heard the porch door open and though the window pane of our house Dad looked though the glass smiling.
I am sure that my grandmother must have cried while they hugged and the only thing I remember is Dad telling her it seemed like home had been a world away the last two years.
My Grandfather got home around and they sat down and opened all the remaining presents. I even had a couple to open that Mama had hid. I was glad to get them and while they stayed up and visited I sat next to Dad on the couch and drifted off to sleep.
When I started this blog, which consists of copying almost 300 letters, I thought that I would gain some long awaited insight into Dad’s character.. I have to say that I did not. Nothing about him was revealed that I had not known for a long time. What I did gain from this toil was a lot of memories of things that had taken place and that enabled me to put them in perspective on what was going on in the world and my life at the same time he was away.
From a social historical stand point there were a lot of things that happened. The Bobby Greenlease Kidnapping, the Korean cease fire, the bank robbery in Fairmount, my jacket with all the army patches which were a big hit at school, the two TV stations (soon to be three) that had come on the air, the impact that the Korean War had on our small community with all the neighborhood young men being drafted, the way they seemed to run into each other so far away from home while overseas, the comments he made about Mom from time to time, his girl friend Margie, the national and international events that took place, the movies that he had seen that are now classics, the prejudices that he and the country held, and how important letters are to soldiers. The list could go on and on. But I will leave an in-depth analysis to social historians that might read these letters some day and there is a good chance they will. I have made arrangements for the letters to become part of the military archives of
, where they will be preserved and catalogued for future generations. I don’t mind letting the letters out of the family because it is better they be in an archive someplace than sitting around in a shoebox for another 58 years. Missouri
The one thing that stands out the most is how one solitary soldier being drafted not only affected his life but the lives of all who knew him and others in the family. Needless to say Mama and Baba were profoundly affected. They like many parents worried all the time and I am sure had plenty of nightmares about never seeing Dad again. It brought the whole family closer together for Dad was the only one of our family generation of the time to go into the Army. J.Q. was 4F and Larry and Mike were two young. His aunts, uncles, and cousins made an effort to keep in touch with him by the letters they wrote and genuinely missed and worried about him almost as much as my grandfather and grandmother.
Dad joined the Army Reserves, or perhaps he was forced to join, I am not sure how it went back then. They had weekly meetings in
on the square somewhere. He stayed in for two years that I know of and made Master Sgt and then First Sgt. I have all his Sgt stripes still. Independence
Dad went back to his old job at Westinghouse but I don’t know how long he stayed. He used the GI Bill to continue his flying lessens and he got rated on twin engines, a commercial pilot license, a flight instructor rating and eventually became an instructor for instructors.
He was Chief Flight Instructor for Air Way Flight Service and Wilson Flying Service out of the down town air port. He tried to get a job with the airlines but there were too many pilots being discharged who already had more experience than he. After a short tenure with U.S. Engineering as a corporate pilot and estimator, he retuned to pilot instruction and became very well known in the flight community and was an active member of Quiet Birds, an honorary organization that I have no idea what they stood for or did in their meeting.
He was recruited by the CIA once but turned it down. He was on their watch list because of that special training he had in the army and eventually at the age of 42 landed a job with the FAA where he ended up retiring as a GS 15.
I am not sure but I think he might have tried to get together with Mom but Mom told me years later that “too much water had gone under the bridge but that Dad was the only man she ever truly loved.” I know the feeling. Dad ended up meeting and then marrying Doris, the eventual mother of my brother Brian and my sister Traci.
That marriage lasted a while but then they divorced and after a couple of years he married a lady named Marsha. He and Marsha stayed married for over 30 years. They had the normal trials and tribulation of married people but they stuck it out though sickness and health all the way until Dad died in 2002 while I was in
. I did not attend the funeral, it cost too much for me to return, but many people did show up. Alaska
Dad was not really an outgoing guy but had a side to him saved for his close friends that his children rarely saw. He could be funny, he had a very dry since of humor and seemed to attract all kinds of people as friends and acquaintances from all walks of life, priests to outlaws.
Dad joined the VFW and after his retirement from the FAA became marginally active in the organization. He had joined the Masonic Lodge and was a member of the Horse Mounted Guard in the Shrine. He even went to
and rode in a parade once. New York
once before the Korean War Memorial had been constructed and said he was walking around some sort of park or something when he saw a bench that had an inscription. “Dedicated to Korean War Veterans.” Dad said he sat down on the bench and cried. I guess Washington, D.C. was not that far away after all. Korea
Dad some how became active in 5th RCT reunions but don’t know if he ever ran into anybody he served with in
. I know he went to a couple of reunions in Branson. The last time he went and shortly before he died there was a parade scheduled in Branson. Dad decided not to march in the parade because he didn’t think he would make it all the way so he went home without even going to the parade. Korea
Dad very seldom talked about
, at least to me. I did hear him tell his cousin JQ, when JQ asked Dad to go camping and Dad said no, a little of his feelings.. JQ didn’t let the matter drop and kept pressing Dad as to why he didn’t want to go camping. “Have you ever gone camping,” JQ badgered. “Yes” Dad said, “Once for 16 months but we called it Korea .” He never mentioned his friends he had made in the army and with the exception of Don Underwood , who was in the reserves with him later and Zink, since he just lived three doors down the street, he never saw any of them again. I have wondered what ever became of Theiderman and Simnonie. Jim Rountree and Arkie had been Dad’s friends before he went into the army and he did see them frequently after words but even they drifted away eventually and he had no contact with either of them for many years. Every now and then after I received my commission he would mention something about the army and Korea in general but nothing of any consequence other than some details about that special training he had but wouldn’t tell me anything other than he had some letters for me he wanted me to have after he died Perhaps I should have asked more questions but Dad was never the type of guy you asked a lot of questions of. He could stare right though you and melt you in a second. I could identify with that kid he reprimanded in the army once that started to cry without Dad ever raising his voice. However, Dad and I were not estranged, we were just never real close. I never had a problem with Dad. I remember some fun times especially the one time we went to my father-in-law’s place in Tennessee for an extended weekend to attend a pig roast, but there were not many. I was always proud to tell people that Dad had been in the army, had served in Korea , and was a pilot. He never said much to me about me, but told me once he just wanted me to be happy. Marsha told me once that Dad was very proud of my accomplishments, those of which I have always taken for granted, but they seemed important to him. Dad never told me any such thing. Korea
However Dad and I had come to an unspoken understanding and I can truthfully say that when he died there was nothing left unsaid between us. I have told each one of my children that if I were to die suddenly that for them not to think they should have said this or that, that I already new how they felt. I guess that is the legacy Dad left me. Should it be the same for all of us.
Teddy Stone McAnally
Son, Husband, Father, Grandfather, Great Grandfather
Korean War Veteran