In honor of Veterans Day, I hope we all take a little time to think about the all the men and woman that have served our country throughout the years. In particular, we should remember those that gave their lives in the service of the country. If you take a moment to reflect on the people around you, you likely either served yourself or know someone that has. Every Veteran has done a service for the country and will have their own stories to share. I have had many Veterans have a direct impact on me, and I wanted to talk about one such Veteran, my grandfather, Arthur Albert.
Arthur served in the 458 bombardment group (H) of Mighty Eighth Air Corps during the Second World War. He was actively involved in the bombing of Europe during 1944. Bombing flights in World War 2 were extremely hazardous, but also played a key role in stopping the German war machine. Arthur was the radio operator in his crew, and was awarded a distinguished flying cross for his service (the featured picture is of him as he received it; he is the short one on the right). Instead of going through the different missions, people and the plane in his crew, I will refer you to a website that has devoted its time to chronicling the stories of the people of the 458th. Please head over to 458th Bombardment Group for more information. He served in The Tracy Crew, if you’d like to see pictures and information regarding his specific crew.
Clearly I was not alive during this time, and I did not know my grandfather as the radio operator of B-24. I knew him as Grandpa. When I was a child, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, and it is during this time that I got to know him. What I remember of him, was a man that was always interested in keeping up with current technology. As personal computer were just coming out, he was regularly working on making, repairing, or programming some type of computer. I remember trips to Radio Shack to find hardware and time spent looking over a Dos prompt running some program or the other. Also, to do this, I don’t know how he had the remotes configured for the TV. The algorithm he had implemented for changing the channel, was so difficult, only he could control the thing. While he probably could have made it easier to work with, my siblings and I can still hear him shouting, “D&*^*&, the kids were playing with the remote again.” Maybe not the best language for kids, but I remember it very fondly.
It also wasn’t just computers and televisions, but he also built the house he and my grandmother lived in for all of my memory until they passed away. He was also the main reason I developed an interest in science fiction. Since we couldn’t use the remote, we almost exclusively watched the X-files while we were with him. Between working on computers and watching television with my grandfather, and reading Asimov and playing Zelda on NES with my dad, I was set on this wonderful path of discovery and learning using technology that led me to ask deeper and deeper questions. While it may appear I should have been a computer scientist, I could never stop asking more questions, so the logic and reasoning of mathematics called me in.
I am quite frequently reminded of my grandfather as I look at my son. I did indeed name my son after my grandfather, which has caused an association in my mind. This reminds me to try to inspire my son the way my grandfather inspired me.
I hope you have someone you can think of today, and I want to send a special thank you to all the Veterans for their service.