Happy Veteran’s Day Sgt. Davis (and all our men & women in the armed forces/vets)

reserves, originally uploaded by MinorlyObsessed.

Today is Veteran’s Day and we owe at least a few minutes of reflection to our men and women in uniform, past and present, to acknowledge their stellar contributions to our country.

My youngest brother, Paul, is a member of the armed forces. He decided to join the Army shortly after the September 11th attacks and went into basic training in the spring of 2002. A few months later, he joined the Army’s prestigious 82nd Airborne division (hooah!) because he liked the idea of jumping out of planes!

Paul spent a pair of tours in Iraq. Those were nervewracking years for my family. Each time I heard about a soldier being killed or injured on the news, my heart skipped a beat and I’d wait breathlessly for more information – which unit, which division, what happened. I spent loads of time chatting in Internet groups where other family members shared news and information (Rick, Deborah, Jo, Lindsay, Georgie, Bobbie and more were lifesavers during that time).

The hardest days happened when we received the updates about a death. Those updates were heartbreaking. I still remember coming back home from a trade show and hearing that Marc Seiden was killed just weeks before they were supposed to come home. I think I cried for an hour straight. And on the next tour, Michael Duel, who was in Paul’s platoon, was killed mid tour. Just writing this makes me cry a bit because I think so much about their families and how important their contribution is to our freedom. While I’m not one to pray much, I still say prayers for both of these brave soldiers and every time I hear about injuries or deaths because this is someone’s son, daughter, brother, sister, mom or dad, etc.

I’m very proud to be part of the military family and want to thank all of our soldiers – present and past – for their dedication. Thank you for keeping us safe and for giving your all for our country.

On this Veteran’s Day, please remember our troops and let’s all do all we can to make sure that they come home safe.


6 responses to “Happy Veteran’s Day Sgt. Davis (and all our men & women in the armed forces/vets)

  1. That is a great post, Deanna. You should be very proud of your brother. I remember meeting you and Paul out in the city when he was home on a brief leave during his first tour in Iraq. And I remember seeing the war in a different light after seeing Paul in an everyday setting – I think we were at Kennedy’s near Columbus Circle – and knowing that he would be returning to Iraq just days later. I could never imagine what it would be like to have a brother or sister leaving for such a dangerous place, but seeing you and Paul together gave me a sense for what it must be like.
    For Veterans Day, I want to share something I wrote in August on a Facebook page my family has called Descendants of Mike and Ellen Lyons. My grandfather Jeremiah Lyons, 91, is one of 11 children of Ellen and Mike, and a veteran of World War II.
    Lyons Family Military History
    Since I was a kid, I’ve always pressed my grandfather for stories about his service in the Army during World War II. He has some great stories about serving in the Army with his brothers Thomas and Daniel. Although they served in Army units stationed thousands of miles apart, they managed to keep in touch through letters, and they even dropped subtle hints in code that allowed them to know where each brother was serving.

    Here are some stories I’ve heard from Pop (Jeremiah “Ger” Lyons), details of his service record, and thoughts about the Lyons brothers serving in the military.

    Pop was drafted into service on Jan. 17, 1941, and served as a truck driver, messenger and machine gunner, according to his military records. Uncle Tom was also drafted, and served as a tank driver (DanGer was painted on his tank, in reference to brothers Dan and Ger. The story behind Uncle Danny’s entrance into the Army is memorable. As Pop recalls, his brother Joe, who was the breadwinner for the family, was drafted before Danny. In order to allow Joe to continue to support the family, Danny went down to the local draft office and volunteered to go in his place. The Army gave the OK, and swiftly shipped Uncle Danny off to the South Pacific. A number of weeks later, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, where Danny was stationed.

    Pop and I talked about his brothers Danny and Tom last month while we were in Block Island, telling stories after dinner while smoking a cigar (yes, even at 91, Pop enjoys one or two cigars each day). I choked up while telling Pop one of the favorite stories that I had heard about Uncle Danny. A few years before he passed away, Danny’s daughter Ellen took him on a trip to Hawaii to visit Pearl Harbor. One day while in Pearl Harbor, they visited the Army base with a tour group. At the end of the tour, the tour guide asked the group if there were any Pearl Harbor survivors in attendance. Uncle Danny raised his hand – he was the only survivor in the tour group that day. Applause broke out, and Uncle Danny was quickly surrounded by members of the tour group who were eager to shake his hand.

    From what Pop has told me, he and his brothers managed to stay in regular contact, even though they were stationed on separate continents. Pop says they used code words in their letters that allowed them to determine where each brother was located.

    Pop, as his grandkids call him, or Ger, as he is known by family and friends, served in the Army’s 39th Infantry Division, Company H. He fought in battles in North Africa and Italy, and was on a transport ship that was torpedoed by an Italian U-Boat, and he and other members of his unit were rescued by a British destroyer. He entered the Army on Jan. 17, 1941, and was honorably discharged on Aug. 11, 1944, to be treated for tuberculosis. Surgeons removed half of one of his lungs and several ribs to fight the tuberculosis. Pop was a Private First Class at the time of discharge. His service medals include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

  2. This is a great story too Steve – thanks for sharing it!

  3. worldwar1letters

    Readers may also be interested in the writings home from the front of US Sgt. Sam Avery during the Great War (World War I). Fascinating eyewitness history from the hot sands along the Rio Grande to the cold mud along the Meuse.

    This blog is an adventure long in the making for me in honor of my own family hero. Letters are posted on the same day they were written from the trenches 91 years ago. Today I found myself staring at my watch counting down the minutes to 1100 hrs.

    Long before the Greatest Generation there was the Most Gallant Generation. Stop by and come march along…


  4. Deanna, I really love this post you just wrote in honor of Veteran’s Day. Thank you to all the men and women in the Armed Forces who are protecting our country and who have given their lives for us. I feel so proud to be an American citizen!

    I remember when Paul joined the 82nd Airborne Division in 2002 and when he was sent to do his first tour in Iraq. I was so happy that I was able to be your roommate again at that time. I’ll always remember you packing up boxes of goodies to send over to Paul and the soldiers. I feel privileged to have shared that experience with you. It made me even more appreciative of everything that our soldiers go through to protect our country.

    • I had a great time packing up all those packages (and the best time living with you!). I remember one time I sent through some dirt because the guys wanted to mix it in with the sand. I was on my way to the post office and was digging up a small bag of dirt to include when one of the maintenance men in my building walked by and gave me a look that said “She must be crazy.” It was so funny!

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