My father, veteran

April 26, 2018

If you followed the link to Anna’s blog on my last post, you should have seen that my father was buried with military honors due to his service in the United States Air Force. Here are some of the things I heard over the years about his military service.

His specialty was Electronics and he mostly worked on B-52 bombers, so despite being in the Air Force I understand that he spent most of his time on the ground. He did say that once he was working on a plane and apparently there was some miscommunication, because before he finished the plane started moving, and he had to jump out as it was taxiing to the runway.

While he was in New Mexico he sang in the choir on Sundays. One day after choir practice the guy singing next to him started asking questions about where he was from and what his hobbies were and such. I don’t know if Dad knew it at the time, but this man was an FBI agent, and a few weeks later Dad’s commander told him he’d been given a security clearance to work on nuclear weapons.

He was serving during the time the Korean war was going on. He said once they asked for volunteers to go to Korea, so he raised his hand. Shortly after that he was given a new posting—to England!

(I’ve heard both those stories many times over the years, but it wasn’t until just now that I realized they might be connected. I doubt that many of the plans in Korea carried nuclear weapons, so it makes sense that after going to the trouble to get him cleared they would send him to a place where there were planes that did.)

They sent him to England by boat. About half way across the Atlantic they went through a hurricane. My father never suffered from seasickness or motion sickness of any kind (I’ve inherited that from him) so it was have been no big deal for him. However, everyone else was very sick and he couldn’t go out on deck due to the weather, so he had to stay in the hold with all the sick people which he didn’t much care for.

After he got there he had to get an English drivers license. The person he went to to get the license was surprised to learn that there were automobiles in Arizona and that the state issued drivers licenses.

One time he and a friend were trying to go somewhere and ran into a big crowd. It turned out that the crowd was there to see Queen Elizabeth go by as she was returning from her first tour of the commonwealth after her coronation, so they stopped and watched her go by.

He went to Germany at least once while on leave, and bought a Leica camera.

He always paid his tithing right after getting his pay. He said most of the other airmen had to go pay off loans they’d taken out, but he always had a least a little money left over from the previous payday.

He and my mother were engaged by mail while he was in England. My Uncle Bruce (my mother’s youngest brother) was really disappointed when the Hershey’s box he sent her just had a ring and no candy.

They planned their wedding for a month after the date he was supposed to be discharged, but then the Air Force decided to extend his enlistment a month or two. My mother was very upset, but her father called their congressman, John Rhodes, and complained, so my father was discharged on the original date.

So that’s most of what I know about my father’s military service.

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Gerald Pew, 1933–2018

April 23, 2018

My father, Gerald Pew, passed away on April 12. I don’t think I’m ready yet to say much about him, but here are some links for those who want to know more:

The slideshow my brother Tim made for the viewing.

The grandchildren singing at his funeral.

All my brothers, two of my uncles, four of my sons, lots of my cousins and nephews, and I singing at his funeral. (The arrangement is by my cousin Lane Johnson. His father, Lee, is not only my mother’s older brother but also my father’s life-long best friend. Both of them are in this group.)

A post by my niece, Anna. She’s an accomplished photographer, and included the obituary and my father’s testimony.

Prescient

April 11, 2018

I’ve been rereading old books to decide if I want to recommend them to my boys (the younger ones here at home.) Most recently I’ve been reading C. S. Lewis’ space trilogy. The first two books, Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, haven’t held up all that well (science has learned a lot about Mars and Venus since they were written) but the third, That Hideous Strength, has parts that seem taken from current events. For example, today I saw this:

I bring this up, because this week, a new Politico piece theorizes that a lack of “trusted news sources” in rural areas, rather than any particular issues, gave Donald Trump victory in 2016. It is perhaps the most unconvincing, inference-ridden, self-aggrandizing piece in the entire “What Went Wrong?” genre. The premise, basically, is that a lack of local media sources left a void that was filled by Donald Trump’s tweets and unreliable conservative sites, and that factor turned the 2016 election, “especially in states like Wisconsin, North Carolina and Pennsylvania,” where hapless Americans were unable to make educated choices without proper guidance from journalists.

“The results,” Shawn Musgrave and Matthew Nussbaum write, “show a clear correlation between low subscription rates and Trump’s success in the 2016 election, both against Hillary Clinton and when compared to Romney in 2012.”

and I remembered this:

“Both, honey, both,” said Miss Hardcastle. “Don’t you understand anything? Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and each terrified of the other? That’s how we get things done. Any opposition to the N.I.C.E. is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us—to refute the enemy slanders. Of course we’re non-political. The real power always is.”

“I don’t believe you can do that,” said Mark. “Not with the papers that are read by educated people.”

“That shows you’re still in the nursery, lovey,” said Miss Hardcastle. “Haven’t you yet realized it’s the other way around.?”

“How do you mean?”

“Why you fool, it’s the educated reader who can be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they’re all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the highbrow weeklies, don’t need reconditioning. They’re all right already. They’ll believe anything.”