>> November 11, 2009
In observation of Veterans Day I'll give my "shout out" to my grandfather: US Army, WWII and Korean War veteran.
Please, allow me to introduce you to someone. I think you'll like him. His name is Ross D. Provost, my grandfather. He is the most honorable man I have ever met. He’s a church going man, a Christian. A man who understands from experience the value of life and liberty, and what it takes to hold on to those precious gifts.
To look at him, you would never guess the trials he has been through. It just doesn't show.
In 1944, at 16 years old, he crawled out the dusty back window of a one-story schoolhouse to run off and join the Army/Airforce.
You see, there were soldiers fighting in the second "War to end all Wars". I guess he felt the need, along with most Americans, to do their part for freedom. He enlisted "indefinitely", which, in civilian speak of the time meant, "as long as we need you", for a 3 year stint with the option to renew. About a year later, the Army/Airforce discovered he was under age and kicked him out. Home he went. After a few months, he could stand it no more. He pleaded with his parents to sign his tickets and let him rejoin. They reluctantly agreed. At the ripe old age of 17 he rejoined the Army to deploy at Yokohama, Japan, toward the end of WWII.
After WWII, at 19 years old, he was stationed in Newburgh, NY, at a portion of West Point, where he was a member of the Pilot Training Crash Crew. They assisted with pilot training, obviously. My grandpa's portion of the training was to rescue pilots from the burning planes that the pilots crashed during the course of training. Sounds like loads of fun to me.
Then the Korean War began. Another deployment. This time he was a Field 1st Sergeant, commanding the 105 Howitzer regiment. At one point, serving on the same front line with all three of his sibling brothers at Hungnam - the 38th parallel. He lost his brother Donald in Korea. Paw also told me of the freezing cold and of jumping into an unknown foxhole with snow up to his stomach. I'm sure he was wondering who's foxhole it was, thankful that it was friendly.
After a "promotion" or title change, Paw left the smell of white phosphorus and lord knows how many obliterated landscapes, to the enviable job of...
"One Man Land Mine Discovery and Disposal Unit". This job consisted of "skipping a small tube of nitro across a piece of land like skipping a stone across a pond" in the hopes of exploding the nitro tube and creating a concussion, which would explode the land mines. He told me of times when his friends, seeing that the jeep he was driving was loaded down with tubes of nitroglycerin would give him an extra wide berth. ~ Why wouldn't they?
My grandfather's next military assignment was "Gray Registration", an obscure term for, in my opinion, what can be the most solemn and yet honorable task of any soldier, to escort the body of a fallen military brother to their home.
During a brief assignment at Fort Sill, Oklahoma he and his fellow soldiers broke wild horses for shipping to Greece. The horses were to be used as pack mules for the armed forces in the area. Afterward, he was tasked with the responsibilities of Master Sergeant at Camp Polk, LA. breaking and training new recruits for action. If my grandfather was their instructor, you can bet they were ready. I wonder though, what "Camp" Polk looked like back in the day.
I didn't know about most of my grandfather's military history until today. I had the idea to feature "Paw" in this post when I called him asking, "Would you mind if I told a bit of your story?" Maybe, I said, some of these newly awakened patriots need to be reminded of what you and your brothers in arms went through to secure our liberty. He graciously agreed.
Sometimes our heroes are reluctant to share the torment, the harshest, indescribable anguish of war. Who am I to blame them? I've never been to war. I don't know those horrid memory flashes that only an angel can erase. Nor do I remember the bygone friends and brothers who gave their lives for all of our freedom. It is precisely because of those brave soldiers, that I am here, reminding you to give thanks to my grandfather and men and women like him. They are the true patriots. I know that he would tell you, no, implore you, to get involved. He would demand that you take back the America that we have lost in just the few short years since he and his brothers in arms fought and died for it.
Do not let those lives and ideals go to waste.
Liberties lost are never found again.
We must fight to keep them, or fall into oblivion.