Pride comes from having served USA

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Gerald Sonnenberg
  • 932nd Airlift Wing
 I'd never really thought about it until recently, but my father lied to me when I was a kid. Well, it was more of a distortion of the facts. Maybe he was trying to be funny. He has been known to have a sense of humor. Or maybe he was embarrassed at the time.
I was probably in second grade when I asked my dad, who had served in the Air Force during the Korean War, what his job had been. I had seen black and white photos of him posing in the middle of a wintry U.S. compound in Korea in his long overcoat, helmet, and shouldering an M-1 rifle. I

t all looked pretty cool to me. His reply was that he was a "Remington Raider." I didn't know what that meant. He didn't go into any detail. I just knew Remington was a brand of weapon, and a raider was one of those guys in the movies who were always a part of a smaller unit swiftly attacking an enemy. 

I bragged to my friends for years about this. They thought it sounded just as cool as I did. Then, when I was about 12 years old, I came across his old ribbons and decorations. There were a few, but not as many as I expected for a Remington Raider who spent nine years on active duty and in the Air Force Reserve. 

I finally asked him to be more specific about his service. Then he broke it to me. He was a clerk typist. Remington was also a brand of typewriter. That was the job the Air Force gave him. 

I didn't really know what to say. I just said ok, and we both laughed about it. It was kind of funny and clever, but for the rest of my younger years I would only comment that my dad served in the Korean War. Thinking hard about it, he didn't lie to me at all. I think he told me the whole story because he wanted me to be proud of him, so he gave his job a cool name. I don't think I was any less proud of him. He was always my hero in a lot of ways. 

As I got older, we had our times of separation. My parents divorced, and my dad and I didn't see each other as much. It wasn't until I had my own family that we became even closer than before. 

Two years ago last September; I was in my hometown for my grandfather's funeral. He was my mother's father, and I was very close to him, so I was down. I visited my dad too with all that was going on. We spent the day together talking and watching TV. We talked about a lot of things including the Remington Raider story. I told him I was proud of him regardless of what he did. 

It was almost a month to the day that I flew back to my hometown to go to an intensive care unit where my dad was lying. 

He was having complications from an illness, and his body was starting to fail. He couldn't talk because of an air tube down his throat, and he was also on a ventilator to help him breathe. He wouldn't let anything be done until I got there. He slept most of the time for the next two days, but there was a period of about 30 minutes when my family was out of the room that he was awake. I stood by his bed and held his hand and asked him if he was scared. He shook his head no. I could see how brave he really was. That's how he remained until the end. 

I have the lesson of my father to know that I could call my active duty and Reserve days as a public affairs specialist something cool like Megabyte Marauder or PC Punisher. The millions of veterans past and present sacrificed to serve this nation no matter what their jobs were. They should be proud because they served. We Remington Raiders should be proud as well. I don't equate what I do with those individuals in combat, but I hope my sons are as proud of me as I am of my dad.