My dad also joined the armed forces, as did so many, to use the GI Bill of Rights. He wanted to go to college and become a commercial artist, buy a house and raise a family. In the same file, I come across a pencil self-portrait of my dad in his naval uniform, titled Masayasu, 1951. He's young and skinny, looking more serious than his 18 years.
Not long before his honorable discharge he married my mom, a nursing student he met while the Norris was being repaired at the Boston Naval Shipyard. I popped out about a year after his discharge, while my dad pursued his career dreams and became a commercial artist. He used the GI Bill to buy a house in New Hampshire, then another in Texas. I don't remember him ever venturing an opinion about the Korean War. He just served his time and came home.
These days, my dad is weak and ill. A medical mistake left him permanently disabled at 58 years old, and 17 years later he's in nursing care here in Lufkin. My mom lives on the other side of the building in an assisted-living apartment. But he perks up whenever I ask about his naval stint, though his words are slurred and hard to understand. I tell him about finding the self-portrait and his discharge papers, and he smiles.