I asked several of my friends who served in our Armed Forces to share about their experiences. I understand going into depth is hard, especially for those who served in battle and lost friends. While some experiences were difficult, I have learned that the bond among them is strong even years or decades later. So, while these are just snapshots of a period in their lives, I hope you will join me in thanking them and honoring them and all of their comrades past, present, and future.
God bless them, and God bless America. This is part one of a three-part series.
I would like to introduce you to my friend Lynn A. Howard, E-4 (corporal), whom I met at church. His wife is a dear friend and a source of encouragement to me.
Lynn began his service to his country when he was draft age. Serving in the military caused Lynn to grow up fast. He served in the Army Engineers from 1953-1956 and the Navy Sea Bees, a reserve unit like the Army National Guard except with the Navy, from 1958 to 1961. The hardest part of his service was leaving his new wife of two weeks after a furlough to complete his enlistment.
While in the Army, he completed his basic training at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, and his engineering school in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. From there, he went to Camp Stoneman, California, for debarkation; Camp Futchinbe, Yokohama, Japan, and Camp Drake, Tokyo, Japan, for replacement depot; served in the 68th/503rd Engineer Storage Depot in Inchon, Korea, for 1 ½ years; and Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, where he joined the convoy heading for the 320th Engineer Topographical Company in Ft. Polk, Louisiana, for maneuvers where he finished his enlistment.
After summer training in South Bend, Indiana, with the Navy Sea Bees, he helped build a military housing project at Roosevelt Roads, a Naval Base in Puerto Rico and completed schooling in communications at Port Hueneme, California.
His most enjoyable time in the service was getting “R & R” (rest and recuperation) in Japan.
Lynn said people can honor veterans and those currently serving or recovering by showing respect.
Thank you for your service, Lynn, and for sharing your story.
Colonel Gene Gobeli
Colonel Gene Gobeli (0-6) is probably the dearest veteran to my heart since he’s my uncle. Gene’s career in the United States Marine Corps began March 30, 1966, in the reserves while attending the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
When he enlisted in 1966, “there were lots of draft dodgers and war protesters and pot heads. I didn’t want to be included in that bunch and wanted to do my part to support the country.”
Since retiring on April 1, 1996, he says he misses working with young people. “I have found that Marines will do anything you lead them to do, and a good leader never asks them to do anything stupid or anything the leader would not do. I miss the energy and the teamwork the most.”
During his 30 year career, Gene enjoyed being a part of a professional team to solve problems on the world stage. Among the places he was stationed were Quantico, VA; Camp Lejeune, NC; Vietnam; Cherry Point, NC; Puerto Rico; Washington, DC; Okinawa, Japan; MCRD San Diego, Camp Pendleton, CA; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; and Bangladesh.
Being away from family for extended periods was a difficult part of his service, especially missing out on birthdays and holidays and the daily activities of growing children. On the job the most difficult experience was losing members of the team, he said. “It is a dangerous business and losing friends in combat or training accidents is the worst.”
Gene credits the Corps, along with his family upbringing, as the foundation of his life. These principles included play by the rules and treat others the way you want to be treated. This foundation developed an inner strength, a trust in his fellow Marines, and a dependence on the power of faith.
When I asked him what people can do to show appreciation to those who serve, he said, “Salute the flag and don’t take a knee, ever. Too many of my friends have come home with that flag on their caskets and seeing some spoiled athletes take a knee was most disrespectful to us vets. I often have people thank me for my service and I always respond, ‘thank you for your support’. A simple thank you acknowledges the sacrifices made.”
Thank you, Gene, for sharing your story with us and for your service!
Is there a veteran you are honoring this Veteran’s Day?
Flag photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.
You may also be interested in reading about a current young man serving: Ben Conway. His story can be found here: https://www.michellekaderlywelsh.com/navy-experience-tattooed-on-soul/.