to offer my opinions and you have a RIGHT to dispute any of my opinions, but let us not forget that those RIGHTS are proteced by those who are currently serving in our Military, those who have served in the past, those who gave some and those who gave all. Don't take these RIGHTS for granted.
Offer your thanks and your support to our military whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Bear with me here, as I honor a true American Hero, my late father, Msgt. Charles Getner (USAF-Ret)
I am a proud US AIR FORCE BRAT! My father was a proud member of the US Air Force for 27 years. He retired from active duty when I was a teenager. He did not want to retire, he was still a young man, only in his early 50's. My mother, however, had grown weary of travel with 5 children and had been yearning to be closer to her family for years.
My father's duty took us to various military installations world wide and those experiences made me the person I am today. One cannot travel from installation to installation, school to school without being able to adjust to all types of situations and to respect all types of people. This was probably the greatest gift my father ever gave me.
Upon retirement my father spent a couple of years truly "retired" but he was a man of action and "retirement" just did not suit him. I recall that during his "retirement" he spent a good bit of time at the VA hospital. No, he was not a patient. He spent hours upon hours visiting with the wounded, writing letters, helping them with their excercises, shopping for their miscellaneous needs that could not be met by the hospital staff and so on. He also became very active in his local VFW post, serving on many committees and becoming a member of the VFW honor guard.
As the years went on my father took a job in the private sector. He worked this job for a number of years and finally, he decided that he was ready to truly retire. At this point all 5 children were grown and grandchildren were soon to be in his future.
He loved being a father, but being a "Poppy" was his true calling. The love and affection he showered on my daughter, the first of his grandchildren, is something that she recalls even now at 30 and something that I am proud to emulate. His heart was huge and he showered all of his grandchildren with more love than could be measured. Money was tight, so gifts of "things" were not the norm, time however, was in abundance and he made time for all the grandchildren. I do believe that he and my niece spent more time together than she spent with her own mother. Their bond, even now, remains unbroken. She followed her Poppy into Military Service, proudly serving with the US Marine Corp. The relationship between a loving, caring grandparent and grandchild is something that can not be duplicted.
As time went on my father became ill with prostate cancer. It is quite possible, though no proven, that this cancer was triggered by the affects of "Agent Orange". My father did 3 tours in Vietnam. That meant that for those 3 years, as well as many others, during tours to Korea the Phillipenes and other TDY's as they were called, my mother was on her own while my father fought for our country. Hers was not an easy life either, she too gave to her country.
The doctors treated the prostate cancer and all was well for a number of years, until sadly, the cancer returned. This time it was discovred to be end stage lung cancer. Upon hearing the news my father, a man of action, set about making his plans.
When you think of bravery you think of fighting wars on foreign soil, gun in hand and boots to the ground. I will tell you what my father taught me about bravery.
He faced his illness with hope for recovery but also knew that recovery was unlikely. And so he made his plans. He talked to me about his wishes upon his death, discussions that I never wanted to have. He wrote me notes to be read after death, detailing the phone numbers I would need to have handy, he bundled up copies of various military documentation that I would need to have on hand to make his final arrangements, he wrote me "don't forget" notes, and did all that he could to make it easier for me to make his final arrangements. NOW THAT IS BRAVERY. these notes were not revealed to me until after his death and I cried and cried as I read them. HE FACED HIS DEATH THE WAY HE FACED LIFE. Head on and with purpose. He took the steps necessary to insure that my mother would be financially comfortable and he told me in a letter what he wanted at the end. It was his deepest desire to have a full military funeral, with full honors. AND HE HAD EARNED IT.
When I met with the representative from the funeral parlor, I was told that my father had already had discussion about his final wishes, and had prepaid for all of his final needs. NOW THAT IS BRAVERY. He tried, as he always had, to make my life easier, even now upon his death. As stated his final wish was for a military funeral. We thought it was going to be relatively easy until we (the funeral director and I) were told that there was a possibility that there would not be an honor guard available for us on the date of his funeral. The funeral director sent requested documents to the miitary liasion and about an hour later, we were told that there WOULD absolutely be an Honor Guard for my father.
If you have never attended a military funeral you have missed something that will stay with you forever. It's not the same to see it on television. Having lived through it I can tell you that HONOR, RESPECT AND REVERANCE ruled the day. The service men from the Honor Guard, representing all branches of our US MILITARY, treated my father and his family with the utmost respect and I am ever grateful.
It was hard to sit through, but I was never more proud of my father than I was that day.
IN LOVING HONOR OF MSGT CHARLES W. GETNER, JR. (USAF-Ret)