Monday, May 27, 2013

In Memory Monday

My father, Juan Papaleo with fellow servicemen in Vietnam

Today as you celebrate the official kick-off to summer take a moment to thank those who fought for this country. It's a day when political differences are left at the doorstep as you enter time with those you love and squeeze them a little tighter.

My Father, Juan Papaleo, age 18

I thank my father, a Vietnam veteran, an immigrant unable to speak English, who found a path to livelihood by joining the United States Airforce at 18. As an airplane mechanic he was educated and then stationed overseas. He fixed plane engines, wings and loaded them with Agent Orange. He now suffers from congestive heart failure directly linked to the chemicals he was exposed to. He rarely speaks of that time other than to tell me what plane models he worked on or a funny story about the laundry ladies.

I thank my father-in-law, also a Vietnam vet with several purple hearts and an arm that is disfigured from shrapnel and the removal of bullets. He is haunted by the things he experienced in Vietnam but proudly wears his love of this country.

I have to thank my grandfather, a WWII veteran who was wounded in France and awarded a purple heart. He was able to leave the battle memories across the sea. He was patient, so kind and loving. A fisherman and lover of nature who filled my childhood with joy.

I also have to thank my friend Mary Jo's sons, all three of which are in active duty, all Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan  tour veterans.Three boys that I only know in pictures and the loving words of their mother who longs for them to return home.

So today remember and be thankful...

Aisle after aisle of canvas and khaki, helmets and mess kits, duffle bags, pea
coats, gas masks… Somewhere there is a whole field of abandoned aircraft,
all kinds, P-38's, B-25's… All you have to do is wait until dark, climb over
the fence, pull the blocks from the wheels, climb in, start the engines and
taxi out to the strip. It's easy. You can fly without ever having had a lesson.

A beautiful woman dressed in black sits on a bench near a grave. A tall man
in dress uniform stands beside her and puts his hand on her shoulder. She
says, "I come here often, it is so peaceful." He says, "Before John died, he
asked me to look after you." They embrace. Behind them are many neat
rows of white crosses extending over a green hill where the flag is flying

The engines make a deep drone; a comforting sound, and the light from the
instrument panel tells you everything is stable and right. Below are silver-
tufted clouds and tiny enemy towns, lovely toy towns, all lighted by the
bomber's moon.

My father, Juan, is #2


  1. I am grateful for their service, too. My prayers go out to Mary Jo. I hope all three of her sons make it safely home very soon.

  2. As the daughter of a veteran, the wife of a veteran, & the mother of 2 veterans, thank you for this post today. To remember is to continue the value of their service.

    1. I thank your father, husband and children, Kathy.

  3. Thinking of Mary Jo and her sons. You have a rich family history of military service. Thank you to all of them.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse

    1. I keep Mary Jo and her sons in my thoughts each day. I hope you had a nice weekend.

  4. A very beautiful tribute. Love the writing - draws you in. It's great that you have so many pictures to remember your dad and his service by. Writer’s Mark