Date: 22 September 2014
I know that when you are reading this, I will be sitting next to you, that makes it even harder to write a letter to you. As I have gotten older I have had more opportunities because of what you have instilled in me.
You have showed me what it means to be a good husband, not once but twice. I am a better manager and employee because of the examples you set. “Always talk to your boss about something other than work.” “Don’t always come with problems, make sure you have a solution first.” These words I hear whispered in my ear often, in your voice.
I am grateful for the love of country you have instilled in me. It’s ok to well up during the National Anthem, or when you see military come home to their families. Our family has a long history of serving for this nation. While I didn’t get the chance, I do try and tell the stories of those who did.
I am sure today was really emotional. Almost as emotional as the day, we spent together in Omaha Nebraska. There are days, in your life that stick with you forever. I will never forget the spring in your step or the way you climbed the ladder to the Con of the LSM. You were so excited. The stories poured out of you like a fire hose. It was a bit overwhelming. Baked Eggs in the Mess for breakfast. The map table, and the Captain’s “dyslexia.” Shooting Stars and ending up “in a lake in Peru.” I also remember when we were below decks, you saying “I’m not sure I have ever been in this part of the ship.” It was something I will never ever forget! Years of stories became real and tangible.
Sacrifice, is a term we tend to overuse when we talk about Vets. Your war experiences were different than many others. I remember Mom and the other wives always saying “It’s amazing we won the war” However I realize you did give up your youth. When I was 20 I was trying desperately to figure out who I was, what I wanted in life. You were fighting for your country, you were sailing a ship, whose mission was to purposely run a ground. When it was most important, the Captain wanted you by his side! He could count on Vanderhoof! I try to have that spirit in my own life. The one you can count on when it’s all hands on deck.
Yes I always credit my love of aviation to Mom and you. This summer as we walked you to the sea, you commented, “It’s nice to watch the sea and not be tossed around in it.” I am happy at an airport or watching planes fly by. I am at peace when I am near the sea. Be it a lake or the shore or a river, it is there where I find my center. The best days of my life are near the sea. I have been very lucky to found Shell, who shares that love. However I realized that my love of the sea stems from you.
It’s taken years to figure it out, though I always knew, I am the son of a Sailor, and the sea is my home.
I am proud to be the Son of a Sailor!
Thank you Dad, for setting my course, and providing me a star to shoot for.