Here's to my military heroes
By By Adam Prestridge
Growing up the son of a sailor was exciting to say the least.
There was never a dull moment in my household. Being in the military instilled a work ethic in my father like none I’ve ever witnessed. I used to tell people that he would clean house at 10 o’clock at night after a long day at work and after vacuuming the living room, he would sweep the carpet to get it cleaner.
As a young child, I spent a lot of time in airports saying my goodbyes as he flew away for two weeks of service. It was exciting when he came back from places like Hawaii with souvenirs for me and my brothers and sisters. I always thought it was interesting to snoop around in his sea bags and to read the white-lettered stamping on the sides of them documenting the places he has visited.
During the Vietnam War, he served off the coast of the Pacific protecting international waters from enemies. Although he didn’t see much action, he was there. Everyone’s father is his or her hero, mine just had the opportunity to work as one as a Naval reservist.
He’s told me all these stories about how cramped his living quarters were on ships during his four years of active duty and how some nights the boat rocked him to sleep like a baby and other nights he had to literally tie himself into his bunk to keep from being slung to the floor.
Although he didn’t reenlist in active duty, he went on to serve more than 20 years in the reserves and continued to serve his country proudly.
My brother, Alan, who is an officer in the U.S. Army, took after our father and served four years in the Navy before transferring to the Army Reserves. It’s hard to believe its been nearly 20 years since he first took his oath of service.
A few years back, I sat at this very desk each day awaiting a monthly email from him while he served for just over a year in Iraq. Sometimes the emails were early, sometimes late, which always tied my stomach in knots. Thankfully he made it back home safely and we now have his in-depth emails with numerous photos to reflect on. He’s always been an over achiever.
While in Iraq, Alan got some ink from the “Atlanta Journal Constitution” who did a story about him and a young Iraqi girl who he arranged a trip to the U.S. for an operation on her eye, which she was blind in. At home, he’s the co-director of Alabama Organ Center in Birmingham.
On Fourth of July, although my family was on vacation at the beach with my sister and her family, I thought about my father and brother and their service to our country. I’ve thanked them before, and now, I thank them again.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123.