Sunday, November 11, 2018

Today is Veteran's Day. Welcome Back!

Today is Veteran's Day.

OldNFO has a beautiful moving tribute here.

I wish to honor my grandfather, William Jordan Paulette. He was born on August 3, 1899, and ran away from home to join the Army. I looked for, but cannot find, the only picture I have of him in uniform. His job was to take care of the mules, and the picture is of a squad of young men and a single grizzled sergeant standing at horse stable. Small generic French mutt is included in the photograph.

He landed in France on this day, 100 years ago, the day the Armistice was signed. He told me that when Bill Paulette landed, that was one too many Bills in France, so Kaiser Bill left.

He told me about catching the Spanish Influenza, and going to the hospital. I would have been a child, or at most a teenager, at the time of the conversation, so I had no idea how awful that epidemic was, and so I didn't know the significance of that; but he said he would wake up in the morning, to find that the two boys on either side of him had died in the night, and their bodies had been taken away while he slept.

While he was away, purportedly at risk from warfare, his much-loved older sister Cora was safe at home. She also caught the flu, and died, while he was away.

In a way, the war did kill him, but it took 57 years to do it. It was in the army that he took up the cigarette habit, and my main memory of him is sitting in the porch swing,  smoking unfiltered Pall Malls. He developed emphysema, and had his first heart attack in 1962. He had his second heart attack in March of 1975, while I was in the Army in Germany. Because he was in loco parentis to me (I had no other father for the first five years of my life), the Red Cross arranged for me to fly back on emergency leave, and I spent several days visiting him in the hospital until his condition had stabilized enough that I returned to duty. He had his third heart attack on the first day of spring, March 20, 1975, and he passed that night, with his adored wife Bessie holding his hand, and whispering to him of everyone he loved, while he whispered, 'help me, Bo' (his pet name for her).

He was not the first veteran in my family; I know that one of my multi-great grandfathers, Mr. Norris, was enlisted in an element of the Confederate Army, but I know nothing of his service.

My grandfather was, however, the first link in a chain of service that has extended unbroken to this present day.

Generation Two covered WWII and Korea. My father was in the Army Air Corps during WWII; I have a picture of him taken in 1944 in his uniform, wearing his A1C stripes and his qualification badge as a door gunner for a B17. We still have that badge, a bullet with wings.

My father had four other brothers, two of whom saw service in WWII. My uncle Cecil was a career Navy man; uncle Andrew Lee was a Marine with experience on Okinawa.

Uncle Bill Andy, William Jordan Paulette's only son, was in the Air Force in Korea in the early 1950s. I do not know the dates of his service, but he was born August 21, 1931, so it's conceivable that his time was during the Korean Conflict.

The third generation was the Viet Nam era, and we had several serve, My first cousins Dennis , Uncle Cecil's son, flew helicopters in Viet Nam. Andrew Lee's son Andy, a few years older than me, was drafted and also went to Viet Nam. My brother-in-law, Bob Kimsey, was a generator operator/repairman in the Georgia Army National Guard. I was an Army medic in Germany. My cousin Barry was in Special Forces, but I know nothing else of his duty.

And generation four is represented by my son, SGT Eli Jordan Patterson, US Army (ret) with service in Afghanistan, and my son-in-law Sam Blackstone, US Navy. There are more, including his cousin Ben Tillman, a Citadel graduate like his father, but my son is the only one I have pictures of.

The other day, I watched a documentary, in which retired Army General Petraus said that only 1% of our citizens had served in the military. I have a hard time believing that number is so small, given the folks I have been privileged to be related to.

Be that as it may, to all those named here and the millions more not mentioned: Happy Veteran's Day, and WELCOME BACK!
1922 Bill and Bessie Paulette

The following are the pictures I have of some of the veterans mentioned in this blog. Obviously, not all mentioned are here.

Patterson Boys, 1941
J R Patterson, Sr, 1944

My Basic Training Company, 1972

Better days in uniform, 1975

Papa Pat, Kenneth and Alicia, and
SGT Eli Jordan Patterson, US ARMY (ret) 

Peace be on your household.


  1. Great memories in that post. And a true history of service. Welcome back, Brother.

  2. This is my first time here, having followed your link over at OldNFO's place. Small world.

    My grandfather was a flight instructor in France during WWI. All my uncle (his only son) can tell me is that "He flew Spads". The search continues for more info. I do have his service cap with the old "coffin lid" style 2lt. bar.

    My father was a B-17 pilot and flew 35 combat missions over Europe with the 447th Bomb Group. I have his wings.

    I went through Army basic in 1974 and was also stationed in (the former) West Germany. My MOS was Small Arms Repair.

    My grandfather was discharged from the Army Air Service at Camp Dix February 23,1919. I was discharged from Ft. Dix February 16, 1977.

    I shall make it a point to stop by more often.