I remember…

Update: I had intended this to appear yesterday but I entered the wrong date in the scheduler. It is a repost from a couple of years ago. I still remember Ken Tate.


 

Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967

Sgt_Kenneth_W_Tate

I had intended that last Friday would be my Memorial Day post. But I’ve been remembering a friend and today is a good time to record my thoughts.

I was born and grew up in Illinois, southern Illinois in Benton, IL, the Franklin County seat. I attended Benton Consolidated High School along with several hundred others. One of those in my class was Kenneth W. Tate, a very distant cousin from my mother’s side.

Ken was a tall, lanky, farm boy, who lived, if I recall correctly, to the northeast of town.  I lived on another farm in the opposite direction.  If it weren’t for the occasional family get-togethers and high school, I’d probably never have met him.  But we were distantly related and we did attend high school together.  We ran around with the same bunch.  We were geeks and band-members.  I played a trombone, Ken played the drums. 

For him, like many of us, being in the band was more of an opportunity to get out of PE class that is was for music. The school felt that being in the marching band in the fall was sufficient to meet the state’s PE requirement.  That drew many into our band clique.

Ken and I were also geeks. We took the same math and science classes. We were lab partners for Biology, Chemistry and Physics…the standard college-prep curriculum. When we graduated in 1964, I went off to Southern Illinois University. Ken started classes at a nearby Junior College but he didn’t attend long.

The draft was in force during that time.  It was a strong motivator to remain in school with a 2-S deferment. Rather than being drafted, Ken enlisted in the Army.  I lost track of him until a couple of years later when I received a letter from my Father. Inside with the letter was a clipping…Ken’s obituary.  I didn’t know the details until later.

From the Benton Evening News, September 18, 2009.

Benton, Ill. —

A trip to Northern Illinois by a U.S. Army veteran resulted in an emotional tribute to a Benton man who died in the Vietnam War.

Joe Hare of Columbia, Ky., on Tuesday honored the memory of fellow Black Lions 28th U.S. Infantry member Kenneth W. Tate, who was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1967 — two days after his 21st birthday.

Hare and his wife, Pat, were joined by some of Tate’s family members and friends at his gravesite in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery.

“It’s not easy, is it?” Hare asked, his voice trembling. “I didn’t think I would do this bad.”
Tate was the first person from Franklin County to die in Vietnam.

“I’ve forgotten how many people came to his funeral,” said Tate’s stepsister, Alana Day, “but there were 140 cars at the funeral home.”

There’s a bit more information here at the Virtual Wall.  I didn’t know Ken was a LRRP (Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol). All that we heard was that he was on a patrol and was killed. Someone, I don’t remember who now, said he was killed by a mine.  I don’t know if that’s true or not. It doesn’t really matter, now.

I don’t know why I keep thinking of Ken. We weren’t all that close. Circumstances put us together forty years ago for a period of time. I can still remember his face.

Perhaps it is, as someone once said, that as long as we remember, they aren’t really gone but live within us.  I have no doubt Ken and I will meet again…and laugh remembering when we made nitroglycerin and bombed pigeons outside the window of our 2nd floor High School Chemistry lab using an eyedropper.

Memorial

My Memorial Day post was last Friday’s. People are out and about today. Many won’t be surfing and I don’t expect many to read my post for today.

But, it is important to remember individual stories. We cannot record the lives of every fallen veteran, but when we can for one or another, here and there, we have an obligation to do so.

This is a repost from several years ago. It’s a story worth telling…and retelling.

Eagle Veteran

The photo below and the link to the news article is self-explanatory.  Let’s remember what Independence Day is really about and how we’ve had to fight to retain it.

(H/T to Mobius.)

Frank Glick took this photo at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. When he recorded the shot, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to the widow of the World War II veteran buried there.

It was a crow that first caught Frank Glick’s attention. It was flying around erratically, so Glick got out his Nikon camera and followed it. It was around 6 a.m. on a hazy spring day and he was driving through Fort Snelling National Cemetery because he was early for a training meeting at Delta Airlines, where he works.

Glick is an amateur photographer, but he always carries his camera, just in case. So he followed the crow, in some cultures a symbol of good luck and magic, until he saw it: a huge eagle perched on a tombstone, its eyes alert, its head craned, looking for prey. In the foreground, dew glistened on the grass.

He didn’t think too much about the photo, until he showed it to a co-worker, Tom Ryan, who e-mailed it to his brother, Paul.

Paul wondered whether a relative of the soldier might want a copy. The tail of the eagle partially covered the man’s name, but Paul did some research and looked up the soldier’s name in newspaper obituaries. The eagle had landed on the grave of Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had been a member of the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club, the obituary said.

Paul called the club, and it put him in touch with Jack Kiefner, Ruch’s best friend. When Glick took his photo, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to Kiefner and Ruch’s widow, Vivian.

One day this week, I met with Kiefner and Vivian Ruch in her St. Anthony condo. The actual print would be delivered later that day, but Vivian held a copy of the statuesque photo and her voice broke as she talked about Maurie, his nickname, who died from a form of Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 86.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is very emotional for me.”

Maurie graduated from college in mechanical engineering in December of 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Known for his keen eye, he became a rifle marksman and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He served four years in the military and earned a bronze star.

To those who knew Maurie, he was a calm and deliberate giant. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with broad shoulders, but he was also unassuming and unpretentious.

“Used to call him Mr. Precise,” because of his love of order and knack for fixing things, said Vivian. The Ruches had a rotary telephone long after they became obsolete because Maurie scavenged parts and kept the phone working.

Go here for the complete article.

Coming into Memorial Day

This is Memorial Day weekend. The holiday was originally called Decoration Day and many oldsters still call it that. The first Decoration Day was organized by Union Civil War veterans who collectively were called the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). That first celebration was held in Arlington National Cemetery three years after the end of that  war.

It has been nearly 150 years since that first observance. Over the years the name has changed to Memorial Day and instead of being a veterans-only memorial, it has expanded to include all of those who have preceded us into that next phase of life.

Still, we continue to memorialize veterans first over the others. Each of us have some one whom we remember because as long as we still remember them, they will not fade into History; their individuality gone from our collective memory.

Tomorrow, my local city will hold a Veteran’s March, a few blocks from a local church to a cemetery where some Civil War veterans are buried. We no longer remember them as individuals, their personalities have been lost in time. But, we can remember their names, their units, and, with some research, we could rebuild some of their history, fleshing their names into people with families and deeds. Perhaps that would be a good school project, researching some of those names and recreating, as much as possible, the people who wore them and their lives.

Sgt_Kenneth_W_Tate

Sgt. Kenneth Wayne Tate, US Army, 1946-1967

I’ve one name I remember, Kenneth Tate, a distant cousin who was the first from Franklin County, IL to die in the Viet Nam War. We weren’t close but we were high school classmates and we shared a number of common cousins. We lived at opposite ends of the county, he in the northeast, me in the southwest. Outside of school, we would meet occasionally at family functions. I wrote a blog post about Ken Tate a few years ago.

It is a bit unnerving to realize Ken Tate has been gone 47 years. I can still remember him as he appeared, sitting next to me in high school chemistry, physics and math classes.

People talk about the dwindling number of WW2 veterans. They are not the only ones slipping away. My brother-in-law was a Korean War veteran. He’s long gone, too. And as those of us, of my generation, who served, our numbers are diminishing as well.

The attention now is focused, rightfully, to those entering the veteran ranks, the ones who landed on Grenada, Panama, Gulf Wars I and II and finally, Afghanistan. They have needs, as much and often more, than those of us from earlier times. I’ve been fortunate to not need assistance from the Veteran’s Administration. I hope to never need any, let those who do need help have priority.

But never forget. The nation owes veterans. Veterans should never take second place to any group, any segment of the population. Veterans have earned their rights the hard way with their bodies and their lives.

Now that Memorial Day weekend is here, remember what is owed to veterans. Winston Churchill said, “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” It is still applicable today.

 

Repost: Eagle Veteran

This was originally posted for the 4th of July. It’s appropriate, too, for Memorial Day.

The photo below and the link to the news article is self-explanatory.  Let’s remember what Independence Day is really about and how we’ve had to fight to retain it.

(H/T to Mobius.)

Frank Glick took this photo at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. When he recorded the shot, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to the widow of the World War II veteran buried there.

It was a crow that first caught Frank Glick’s attention. It was flying around erratically, so Glick got out his Nikon camera and followed it. It was around 6 a.m. on a hazy spring day and he was driving through Fort Snelling National Cemetery because he was early for a training meeting at Delta Airlines, where he works.

Glick is an amateur photographer, but he always carries his camera, just in case. So he followed the crow, in some cultures a symbol of good luck and magic, until he saw it: a huge eagle perched on a tombstone, its eyes alert, its head craned, looking for prey. In the foreground, dew glistened on the grass.

He didn’t think too much about the photo, until he showed it to a co-worker, Tom Ryan, who e-mailed it to his brother, Paul.

Paul wondered whether a relative of the soldier might want a copy. The tail of the eagle partially covered the man’s name, but Paul did some research and looked up the soldier’s name in newspaper obituaries. The eagle had landed on the grave of Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had been a member of the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club, the obituary said.

Paul called the club, and it put him in touch with Jack Kiefner, Ruch’s best friend. When Glick took his photo, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to Kiefner and Ruch’s widow, Vivian.

One day this week, I met with Kiefner and Vivian Ruch in her St. Anthony condo. The actual print would be delivered later that day, but Vivian held a copy of the statuesque photo and her voice broke as she talked about Maurie, his nickname, who died from a form of Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 86.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is very emotional for me.”

Maurie graduated from college in mechanical engineering in December of 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Known for his keen eye, he became a rifle marksman and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He served four years in the military and earned a bronze star.

To those who knew Maurie, he was a calm and deliberate giant. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with broad shoulders, but he was also unassuming and unpretentious.

“Used to call him Mr. Precise,” because of his love of order and knack for fixing things, said Vivian. The Ruches had a rotary telephone long after they became obsolete because Maurie scavenged parts and kept the phone working.

Go here for the complete article.

Kenneth Tate, US Army, 1946 – 1967

Sgt_Kenneth_W_Tate

Sgt. Kenneth Wayne Tate, US Army, 1946-1967

I had intended that last Friday would be my Memorial Day post. But I’ve been remembering a friend and today is a good time to record my thoughts.

I was born and grew up in Illinois, southern Illinois in Benton, IL, the Franklin County seat. I attended Benton Consolidated High School along with several hundred others. One of those in my class was Kenneth W. Tate, a very distant cousin from my mother’s side.

Ken was a tall, lanky, farm boy, who lived, if I recall correctly, to the northeast of town.  I lived on another farm in the opposite direction.  If it weren’t for the occasional family get-togethers and high school, I’d probably never have met him.  But we were distantly related and we did attend high school together.  We ran around with the same bunch.  We were geeks and band-members.  I played a trombone, Ken played the drums. 

For him, like many of us, being in the band was more of an opportunity to get out of PE class that is was for music. The school felt that being in the marching band in the fall was sufficient to meet the state’s PE requirement.  That drew many into our band clique.

Ken and I were also geeks. We took the same math and science classes. We were lab partners for Biology, Chemistry and Physics…the standard college-prep curriculum. When we graduated in 1964, I went off to Southern Illinois University. Ken started classes at a nearby Junior College but he didn’t attend long.

The draft was in force during that time.  It was a strong motivator to remain in school with a 2-S deferment. Rather than being drafted, Ken enlisted in the Army.  I lost track of him until a couple of years later whe I received a letter from my Father. Inside with the letter was a clipping…Ken’s obituary.  I didn’t know the details until later.

From the Benton Evening News, September 18, 2009.

Benton, Ill. —

A trip to Northern Illinois by a U.S. Army veteran resulted in an emotional tribute to a Benton man who died in the Vietnam War.

Joe Hare of Columbia, Ky., on Tuesday honored the memory of fellow Black Lions 28th U.S. Infantry member Kenneth W. Tate, who was killed in action on Sept. 6, 1967 — two days after his 21st birthday.

Hare and his wife, Pat, were joined by some of Tate’s family members and friends at his gravesite in the Masonic & Odd Fellows Cemetery.

“It’s not easy, is it?” Hare asked, his voice trembling. “I didn’t think I would do this bad.”
Tate was the first person from Franklin County to die in Vietnam.

“I’ve forgotten how many people came to his funeral,” said Tate’s stepsister, Alana Day, “but there were 140 cars at the funeral home.”

There’s a bit more information here at the Virtual Wall.  I didn’t know Ken was a LRRP. All that we heard was that he was on a patrol and was killed. Someone, I don’t remember who now, said he was killed by a mine.  I don’t know if that’s true or not. It doesn’t really matter, now.

I don’t know why I keep thinking of Ken. We weren’t all that close. Circumstances put us together forty years ago for a period of time. I can still remember his face.

Perhaps it is, as someone once said, that as long as we remember, they aren’t really gone but live within us.  I have no doubt Ken and I will meet again…and laugh remembering when we made nitroglycerin and bombed pigeons outside the window of our 2nd floor Chemistry lab using an eyedropper.

Repost: Eagle Veteran

This post was originally published last year on the 4th of July.  It is still appropriate this Memorial Day.

***

The photo below and the link to the news article is self-explanatory.  Let’s remember what Memorial Day is really about and how we’ve had to fight to retain our Heritage and Independence. (H/T to Mobius.)

Frank Glick took this photo at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. When he recorded the shot, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to the widow of the World War II veteran buried there.

It was a crow that first caught Frank Glick’s attention. It was flying around erratically, so Glick got out his Nikon camera and followed it. It was around 6 a.m. on a hazy spring day and he was driving through Fort Snelling National Cemetery because he was early for a training meeting at Delta Airlines, where he works.

Glick is an amateur photographer, but he always carries his camera, just in case. So he followed the crow, in some cultures a symbol of good luck and magic, until he saw it: a huge eagle perched on a tombstone, its eyes alert, its head craned, looking for prey. In the foreground, dew glistened on the grass.

He didn’t think too much about the photo, until he showed it to a co-worker, Tom Ryan, who e-mailed it to his brother, Paul.

Paul wondered whether a relative of the soldier might want a copy. The tail of the eagle partially covered the man’s name, but Paul did some research and looked up the soldier’s name in newspaper obituaries. The eagle had landed on the grave of Sgt. Maurice Ruch, who had been a member of the St. Anthony Kiwanis Club, the obituary said

Paul called the club, and it put him in touch with Jack Kiefner, Ruch’s best friend. When Glick took his photo, he never could have guessed how much it was going to mean to Kiefner and Ruch’s widow, Vivian.

One day this week, I met with Kiefner and Vivian Ruch in her St. Anthony condo. The actual print would be delivered later that day, but Vivian held a copy of the statuesque photo and her voice broke as she talked about Maurie, his nickname, who died from a form of Parkinson’s in 2008 at age 86.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “This is very emotional for me.”

Maurie graduated from college in mechanical engineering in December of 1941 and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Known for his keen eye, he became a rifle marksman and was stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He served four years in the military and earned a bronze star.

To those who knew Maurie, he was a calm and deliberate giant. He stood 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with broad shoulders, but he was also unassuming and unpretentious.

“Used to call him Mr. Precise,” because of his love of order and knack for fixing things, said Vivian. The Ruches had a rotary telephone long after they became obsolete because Maurie scavenged parts and kept the phone working.

Go here for the complete article.

Memorial Day

This time of year evokes many memories.  One of mine is of a high-school friend, Mike “Tater” Tate. He was a 6′ 2″ farm boy from eastern Franklin County, graduated with me from high school, entered the Army in 1965, went to Viet Nam and didn’t come back.