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Quinn Cummings @quinncy
, 14 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
#VeteransDay

My father in law was trained as a Signal Corpsman in World War II. He carried the secret FM crystals which allowed the generals to talk to each other. Because he was usually near the generals, his war career was pretty quiet.
On the other hand, he was always vague about what the protocol was if it looked as if he, and those crystals, were about to fall into enemy hands.

Best to just be grateful it didn't come to that.
My father had a double degree in Classics and Astronomy from Cornell. The year after he graduated, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. This was enough of a shock that American military planes were still pretty antiquated, not ready for long-range combat.
Many of the planes didn't have radar. My father wrote a small book of celestial navigation, sized to fit in a pocket of a flight suit. Until the new planes were up and running, my father helped them get home.
He also was a captain, taught navigation. The way I hear it, my father - a not tall, unprepossessing man- would walk in and the teenage flyboys, all jostling arrogance and eagerness, would continue to talk amongst themselves.
My father was left-handed in an age where they tried to force that out of you. My father, luckily, didn't develop the stutter many people forced to write with their off-hand did. In fact, he could write perfectly well with both hands.
So at the chalkboard in front of this sea of testosterone, he would start with his left hand "Captain Sumner Cummings..." and then he would switch to his right hand with no ill-effect, "Navigation Class."
The growing silence would tell him they were ready to listen.
My mother in law's brother was a pilot. He might have been in my father's class. He loved to fly. He was good enough at it that they sent him to Texas to test new planes. One of those planes failed. He died in the war without ever leaving American soil. He was 20 years old.
Some part of my mother in law died with him.
My father was the navigator on the first plane into Hiroshima after the bomb was dropped. He carried the American generals tasked with talking to their Japanese
counterparts. Like my father in law, my father was close to the generals.
My father - fit, not overweight, no history of heart disease - died of a massive heart attack in his early fifties. There is interesting evidence showing correlation between radiation exposure and heart disease.
My father loved navigating, loved teaching. I believe had he known he might be shortening his life, he still would have enlisted. My father in law, my uncle in law, my father, they showed up and they served. I thank them for their service.
Veterans, thank you for your service.
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