Originally posted in 2009; worth a repost. To all our veterans out there, thank you for your service.
For Veterans Day, I'd like to salute my dad, his four brothers and one of his sisters for their service to our country. All five of the Hall brothers of Sulphur, Louisiana, served in the U.S. Navy. How they felt about their sister serving as an Army nurse, I'm not sure, but I'll have to pose that question at the next family gathering!
My late dad, George Hall, served as a fighter pilot in World War II in the South Pacific.
George Hall, c. 1944. Photo privately held by author.
He originally trained on dive bombers, but switched to fighters when he heard more fighter pilots were needed. He flew an F6F Hellcat from the aircraft carrier USS Hancock in 1945, and years later, was still thrilled to see and discuss planes he trained in or flew in the war. Kudos to our family friend who recorded Dad's reminiscences a couple of years ago on DVD.
(By the way, Thanksgiving gatherings are a great time to record family memories! See the StoryCorps website for ideas.)
Dad was following in his older brother Bob's footsteps by joining the Navy. Robert Lee Hall (1920-2003) was a baker and petty officer on the troop ship APA 117 Haskell during World War II, and later on the aircraft carrier USS Boxer. He helped set up bakeries on ships and on various Pacific islands, including New Caledonia, New Hebrides, and islands in the Samoas and Fijis.
Robert Lee Hall, 1940s. Photo privately held by author.
Uncle Bob told his hometown paper 50 years later, "I remember the terrible heat below deck in the ships' kitchens and also in the tropical island kitchens. And sailors. I got so tired of seeing sailors, day after day, year after year, for the six years I was in service." The monotony was no doubt alleviated when my aunt Martha Burch, as his fiancée, took a troop ship to meet Uncle Bob in the Samoas, where they married and lived for a time.
John Bunyon Hall (1923-2008) was the third Hall brother to serve in the South Pacific during WW II. He worked in the torpedo parts room aboard the sub tender USS Fulton. He was part of a gunner's crew that shot down two attacking enemy planes during the Battle of Saipan.
John Bunyan Hall, 1940s. Photo privately held & digitally edited by author.
Two other living uncles served in the Navy after World War II, and one of my aunts was an Army nurse. To respect their privacy, I won't name them here but will just say how proud we all are of all our relatives who have served in the military! Happy Veterans Day!
Explore your family's military history. Talk to relatives, find out more about requesting military personnel files here and check out free records available at familysearch.org, for a good start.