This is the only way I have ever known my Dad. As a picture Mom had hung on a wall, and in stories she shared with me.
There were not too many of the stories as Mom and Dad had married during World War II, just before he was to ship out for foreign lands.
Dad was a Chief Petty Officer in the United States Navy and a gunnery expert. He had been stationed in Michigan City, Indiana where there was a gunnery school as an instructor. Mom told how they had met at a local dance held for the men stationed here.
With his orders to ship-out the young lovers wed at Great Lakes Naval Station in Great Lakes, Ill., north of Chicago. It was not long before Mom’s was “with child”.
In January 1943, Dad, who was now stationed at the San Diego Naval Base preparing to ship out had been called to defuse a large gun on a battle ship during training maneuvers. According to articles in the newspapers, the gun had misfired and when Dad had reached to release the safety on the gun, the live shell had already began to spiral backwards and exploded. He suffered massive internal damage.
Mom traveled to be at his side and on February 2, 1943, George R. Novak, U.S. Navy, weighed anchor for his journey home. Dad had wished to be buried at sea and respecting this, he remains lay off the coast of San Diego at the U.S. Naval Station.
I made my debut on May 25, 1943. Three months and 23 days after his death. According to legend, Dad had told my Mom that if I was a boy not to name me after him. But if I was go be a daughter, to be named Georgette. (She was upset that I would be named after some “stinky material.” Wish she could see just how expensive this material is today!)
Though I never met my Dad and only know him through my Mother’s memories, I was and am proud to call myself a Navy Brat.
I still recite at sunsets, “Red at night, sailor’s delight. (A sign of fair weather to come) Red in the morning, sailor’s take warning. (Not so smooth sailing ahead.)
As a toddler I was given the honor to lay a wreath on the waters of Trial Creek on Memorial Day to honor our Naval Heroes. Today, 66 years and 23 days after offering his life that I may live in a country of Freedoms, I stand to salute you, Dad, and all the men and women who have sacrificed so much for we, the few.
Mom’s stories were far too few and over the years her memories grew even more painful to recall. Dad is a hero but I salute my Mom for the courage she had to continue with their dream.
They are together at last and I pray they look and see a daughter they can be proud of today as we Honor all our Heroes.