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Sailor’s homecoming a heartbreaker

Honoring All Who Served

A military jet flies over Iraq in the first Gulf War.

Courtesy/U.S. Air Force

A military jet flies over Iraq in the first Gulf War.

USS Bryce Canyon AD-36

I was on the USS Bryce Canyon AD-36 from Jan. 1964 to July 1966. My last trip on the BC was in December 1965 from Pearl Harbor to Long Beach, Calif.

I had been in contact with my parents and they agreed to tow my car out from Minnesota and be on the pier when we pulled in.

As we pulled in, I could see Dad on the pier watching through binoculars. When we were able to leave the ship, I went down, shook hands with Dad, gave him a hug and said, “Where’s Mom?” He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “She died yesterday.”

I’ve thought many times how hard it must have been for him to drive alone from Holbrook, Ariz., where she died, to Long Beach, Calif., and be there on time.

We went back on the ship and told one of the officers in my division what had happened. He contacted the personnel office and got paperwork started for emergency leave. We left the ship and drove back to Arizona to get my car, the continued on to Minnesota. The funeral was on Dec. 26. I remember spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the funeral home. After New Year’s, I went back to the BC and was discharged in July.

I was 23 years old, Mom was 52. She and Dad had been married 27 years.

Dad remarried and had 28 years with his second wife. He passed away in 1994 at the age of 86.

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