Honoring My Favorite Vet

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My dad, Neale Lemaster, in Vietnam.

I was trying so desperately to keep up with the #30DayFHWChallenge from Family Tree Magazine but I got off-track with an assignment that is due for my genealogy class at Boston University and so when I checked in today to see what the writing prompt was, I was shocked it wasn’t something to do with honoring a veteran in your life.

Oh well, going off prompt, I’m going to write about my father, Neale Cecil Lemaster, son of Curtis Lemaster and Gladys Earline Cordle because on today of all days, when I think about veterans, I think of him immediately.

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This little article ran in the paper announcing his draft into the Army.

My dad fairly much went straight from high school into basic training for Vietnam.  At one point he trained at Forts Knox and Benning, which was interesting decades later for my husband to get orders to be stationed at Benning as well for several years.  They would talk about if the air fields were the same, running in formation down the same roads and such.  Living down south in Georgia was just a neat little connection to my father’s past.

crawford-black-knight-patchFollowing basic and advanced training, he ended up being a tank driver in the jungles and was part of the 3/5 Cavalry known as the Black Knights.  Dad doesn’t talk much about his experiences there (at least not to me) but what little I do know, is truly horrifying and I can understand how men like him were so traumatized by what they saw , what they experienced and by what their nation asked them to do.

Dad was seriously wounded on several occasions, earning him four Purple Hearts.  There have been many occasions where I’d see his bullet wound scars and just marvel at the fact I’m only here on the planet because the man is tough as nails.  As a kid, I don’t think you are able to really appreciate the full scale of what our veterans have endured both physically and mentally.  As an adult however, my mind just boggles at how they’d get knocked about, shot at, dodged bombs and so on but yet, somehow, they’d find the fortitude and tenacity to keep on doing it time and again.

I’m just go grateful for people like my dad, who stepped up to the plate when the nation called.  So from this daughter to all the vets, I offer you the most heartfelt and sincere ‘thank you.’

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My dad right before leaving for Vietnam with my Aunt Sila and her boys.
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