Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A Veterans Day Spotlight on My Grandfather

In the recent past, I've shared some of the family photos I've been scanning and saving. When I hit the Mother Lode, I decided that it deserved a special Veterans Day post. My grandmother saved everything from my grandfather's time in the US Navy during World War II, and since I would imagine there are several things most of you have never seen before, it's time to share. 

Let's begin with the man himself.

This is my grandfather, Earl Brookshier, fresh out of boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1944.

Photo of my grandmother, Irene Brookshier and my mother, with my grandmother's own caption.


On the home front, my grandmother had to deal with rationing. Here's the cover of a ration stamp booklet.


And here are what the ration stamps looked like.

Grampa had two main jobs: driving the landing craft up to the beachheads and anti-aircraft gunner. Packs of cards like this would help him identify planes in the vicinity of his ship.

Speaking of his ship, here it is, the LST 1030. LST stands for Landing Ship, Tank. They were the workhorses of the fleet. Mom woke me up late one night, whooping and hollering because she'd spotted the 1030 on an episode of "Victory at Sea."

Here's the LST 1030 closer up. Grampa only had three "stories" to tell about his service. One of them was being caught in a typhoon on a flat-bottomed ship. Sea sickness doesn't even begin to describe it! The other two stories? His best buddy was blown to bits on the next gun turret over, and kamakazes sunk the ships on either side of the 1030. This had to be during Okinawa.

As you can see, Grampa and the rest of the crew liked to go for a swim-- including over the Mariana Trench where it's over six miles down to the bottom. When I asked him how he could do something like that but was scared of flying, his response? "Hell, if something goes wrong with the ship, I can swim, but if something goes wrong with the plane, I sure can't fly!"

The Navy supplied men with postcards to keep in touch with their families, like this one that Grampa sent to his mother.

He also saved some postcards from Panama.

Here's the front of a Christmas card given to the crew.

This is the interior of the Christmas card. I found the menu for Christmas dinner interesting. (Yes, the file sizes are large so you can see what you want to see!)

The LST 1030 spent a lot of time in and around the Philippines. Grampa came home with souvenirs, but they weren't guns or swords. Here is some currency issued by the Japanese military.

Here are two examples of the Japanese-issued currency that civilians had to use in the Philippines.

Something tells me the people of the Philippines were happy when Victory came.

An unknown Japanese officer.

The Japanese officer's family. On islands like Okinawa, the Japanese were firmly entrenched, and often US troops had to use flamethrowers and grenades to clear areas. Somehow I think these photos in my grandfather's possession reminded him of some of the things he had to do. That, when he looked at this photo, he saw a family very much like his own and not an enemy.

Japanese postcards. I would imagine the top one says something like "Loose lips sink ships," don't you?


Grampa came home aboard the USS Clay, which held a special Christmas dinner for the men.

The inside of the card typed on onion skin paper. Good wishes from the crew of the USS Clay, and the route that brought my grandfather and the other men home.

The menu for Grampa's last meal aboard the USS Clay. Love the names of the dishes!

A poem on the back of the card.

Grampa's commanding officer aboard the LST 1030 wrote a three-page record of exactly where they had been throughout their deployment.

Notarized card listing the uniform ribbons Grampa was allowed to wear.

My grandfather did not have an easy return home. He was plagued with what we now call PTSD. He'd wake up in the middle of horrific nightmares to find that he was strangling my grandmother. He began to drink heavily. This lasted until around 1960 when he stopped drinking, stopped smoking, and became the grandfather the five-year-old me thought had hung the moon.

If you can, hug a veteran today. If you haven't served, you have no earthly clue the hell a veteran has been through for you and yours. They deserve our respect, our gratitude... and so much more.

Love you, Grampa. Always have. Always will. You have always been my hero.

14 comments:

  1. What a treasure, Cathy! I'm so happy for you that you have these mementos and your memories of what sounds like a very special person. Thank you for sharing with us.

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  2. Wonderful mementoes! Veterans do deserve our respect and appreciation. I'm so glad your grandfather turned into the man you loved after the trauma of the war.

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    1. It was touch and go there for a while, but that he was able to do that all on his own shows his iron will and strength of character.

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  3. What a wonderful collection Cathy! It truly is a treasure. We owe so much to the men and women who protect and fight for our country every day. Thanks for sharing this!

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  4. What wonderful treasures! Thank you so much for sharing :)

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    1. You're welcome-- and you're right. They are treasures! :-)

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  5. What a wonderful post and so much memorabilia. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I'm amazed at the photos and memorabilia your family saved. Such nice memories for you.

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    1. My grandmother saved it all, which is a bit ironic because she was notorious for going through everyone else's belongings in the house and purging whatever she wanted. And yet... when I was getting my grandparents' house ready for sale, I discovered that she'd squirreled away 107 single socks. Ever had socks go missing from the dryer? I think they magically appeared in my grandparents' house!

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  7. Oh, so that's where my socks went?

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