My father died of a heart attack at age 60 in 1980. I was 18 years old. I'm reminded of him today as it is Memorial Day in the USA.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday which commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. My dad served in the US Navy during World War II. Memorial Day was special to him as he lost many friends in that war.
My father was an officer in the navy and fought in the Pacific. I don't remember him talking much about the war though I know the events of the war profoundly effected him.
Last summer I took my family to Wilmington, NC where I was to deliver a keynote at a regional conference of the American Therapeutic Recreation Association. We made the trip into a fun beach vacation. We stayed at a wonderful hotel along the river and right across the river from the hotel was the Battleship North Carolina which was the first battleship to arrive in Pearl Harbor after the attack.
I decided to tour the ship and I took my then 7 year old son with me. The tour was both amazing and sad. Amazing in that I could hardly believe so many people could fit on that ship and sad because so many resources (people, money, time, energy, etc.) were focused on death and destruction.
The tour got me thinking of my dad's service in the US Navy and so I began the search for his military records. When I told my younger brother about my research project he mentioned he had an audio cassette tape which contained an interview my brother did with my father in 1977. The subject was his military service and it was a project my brother completed in for a ninth grade world history class.
I could hardly believe it.
My father has been dead for 27 years and now I would be able to hear him.
Hearing my dad's voice was very strange. I didn't remember him soundling like that. So many memories and emotions flooded back.
And in the recording, you'll hear my dad mention the importance of teamwork.
Listen to the 22 minute audio interview completed in 1977 with my father at the link below (my brother Brian is the interviewer):
Download john_henry_heck_sr. interview.mp3
Here's a picture of my dad in his uniform (click to enlarge):
During the recording you'll hear my dad mention that he was involved in reconnaissance on various islands. Here's a photo (click to enlarge) he treasured from that work. My dad is standing in front of this group photo - - you can see him with his officer's hat on (his white t-shirt is showing).
I miss my dad. I wish he could have met my wife and kids. It would have been fun to talk about parenting.