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March 3
1882 - George Campton's Newhall general store explodes [story]
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Now and Then in the SCV
| Tuesday, Nov 11, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieMany of you know I’m a veteran of a lot of years with the Navy. Going into the Navy wasn’t really what I had planned on doing in 1968. It was a four-year hitch that lasted 36. Just seemed like the thing to do at the time.

I was and am a submariner. Some of my fellow “bubble heads” (a name we gave ourselves long before I joined) are prone to thinking we went to submarines not because we passed all of our psychological tests, but because we failed them, thus proving we were crazy enough to go on the “boats.” Unlike surface ships (targets), all submarines are called boats. Sometimes “pig boats.”

In my graduating class from Hart High, all services are represented – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Lest we forget, the Merchant Mariners who sailed on convoys during World Wars I and II have been included in our ranks as veterans.

I think it was during our 20th class reunion when someone, not a veteran, said something about “baby killers.” A large group of us got up to throw him from the place. Cooler heads prevailed and he just left.

Today we don’t hear that at all. We actually get thanked for our service, even when it was in Vietnam. I never got spit on at an airport or called any name, but being sailors we know we are special.

So today is the day for all of the veterans to remember. It is called Remembrance Day in Canada and England. We learned sometime in our youth that the date, Nov. 11, was picked because on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, World War I ended.

Yes, World War I. The war to end all wars. But it didn’t. So we had another one. Then Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East.

My very good friend, Richard Mosshart of Hart High baseball and football fame, penned something far more eloquent about veterans than I could even attempt. Here is what he had to say:

“It may be that you didn’t play first string. It may be you didn’t get a straight-‘A’ GPA. It may be you didn’t go with the one guy or girl you wanted. It may be you didn’t have the hottest car, but if you were issued dog tags, a Gideon New Testament and followed orders, it doesn’t matter because you, by God, are our Nation’s finest and only first team of sacred honor, sovereignty and freedom. Veterans: May love, gratitude, and grace be with you always. Richard Mosshart.”

Richard isn’t a veteran. He does remember those of us who served. In reality, he did, too. He still does in remembering us who put on a uniform. Thank you, Richard.

darrylmanzernavyAnyone who has had to clean oily and wet bilges, sleep in a fox hole, stand a lookout watch in heavy seas on a cold night knows why we served. Anyone who has “mess-cooked,” having to wash dishes, serve food and clean up, knows why we served. Anyone who has been deployed to some awful place on the planet and called it home for a few months or more knows why we served.

We also served in places that were pretty nice. Being stationed at Pearl Harbor is pretty good duty, unless you’re a veteran who was there on Dec. 7, 1941. The beaches of Morocco, Italy and France, and many islands in the Pacific, were terrible places to go for a soldier, Marine or sailor in World War II. It always seems that wherever they are sent, veterans don’t talk about it much. They just served. Most came home. Many didn’t. They are prone to saying, “The heroes didn’t return.”

When we take off the uniform for the last time, most of us like to think we will never see it again. Our thoughts and our lives become “civilianized,” and we don’t much think of our time in whatever branch of the armed forces we served. It is in the back of our minds, waiting to come out.

We veterans are prone to remembering the good times when we were serving places like that special bar at some port in the Pacific Ocean or ice skating in Groton, Conn., at the submarine base.

Maybe it was a group of us singing Christmas carols after dinner in the crew’s mess of a submarine 300 feet underwater. For some, a good time was a dry hole in the ground during a monsoon. No matter what, we laugh and remember. We cry and remember. We remember.

We hope that those at home, like Richard Mosshart did, also remember. Today is the day to remember.

I pray that someday we won’t have a need for any military. That day when veterans are no longer made. When we have had the last war to end all wars.

Until that prayer comes true, I remember and hope you all do, too. Today is Veterans Day. Thanks to all of you who served and still do. God bless.

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

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6 Comments

  1. Allan Camero says:

    The very best to our soldiers of now. They continue in an astounding tradition. Nicely expressed Mr. Manze

  2. Brian Homer Brian Homer says:

    Well written sailor, and thank you for your service.

  3. Brian Homer Brian Homer says:

    Well written sailor, and thank you for your service.

  4. Thank you for your service Sir.

  5. Greg Kimura says:

    Thanks to all the our wonderful military personnel, who have kept our country strong and safe. We owe each and every one of you for your service to our great nation!

  6. Steve Harmon says:

    Hey Darryl, Steve Harmon here, I also was stationed aboard the only submarine with a piano and if memory serves, you played it. Uss Thomas (E) Edison SSBN610 1972-1975 (remember those coffee cups?

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