With Veteran's Day tomorrow, and the Marine Corps Birthday today, I wanted to post something about the Veterans in my family that I am very proud of.
My father, Louis Newman, was a Marine Corps Officer who served three tours of duty in Vietnam between the years of 1967-1969. During that time, he earned the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, and two Purple Hearts, amongst other medals. He is, without a doubt, the toughest man I know, and I don't think I tell him enough how proud I am to be his son.
His father before him (also named Louis Newman) was an Officer in the Army Air Corps and a pilot of B-29s (just like the Enola Gay) and he was based off the island of Tinian in the Pacific Arena of World War II in 1945. He flew bombing raids over Japan, and even piloted his plane over the USS Missouri during the official surrender ceremony of Japan to the United States.
My dad was one year old when his father went to Japan to fight. On the day of his first birthday, my grandfather (who I knew as "Pa") wrote him the following letter, shortly before leaving.
In honor of Dad, Pa, and all of those who have served our Country, I thought I would share it with you all today:
CAPTAIN LOUIS M. NEWMAN
Army Air Corps
30 Jan 1945
This is your first birthday. One year ago today was the proudest day of my life. I shall never forget it.
I'm writing you this letter because I miss you and because I love you, and most of all, because I want you to know how important you are to me. I would also like for you to know what kind of person I am.
Tonight I was handed the names of seven men. I'll meet those men in the morning, and as I am to be their pilot, they are going to wonder, rather desperately, what kind of man I am.
I think the best answer to that is a small picture I carry in my pocket. It's a picture of your mother, Louis. And she is holding a sturdy little tow-headed, blue-eyed boy in her arms. You are both laughing.
I may show my crew that picture, Louis, and tell them I'm that kind of a man. You see, I've got a son -- I've got you to live for . . . and so I'm not likely to throw those men's lives away because of carelessness, or just to show off. I have also got you and your mother, to die for if need be, Louis -- and I say this with humbleness and all reverence; I don't mean to sound heroic . . . so those men will know that I'm not likely to quit easy or disappoint them.
I pray that whatever happens between this night and the time when you can read and understand this letter, when that time of understanding comes I want you to be as proud of me then as I am of you now. I want to help you build your life. I want to be a good influence in that life. And I want your life to be better, happier and more worth-while because I have lived.
That is the kind of a person I strive to be, Louis. That's how important you are to me . . .
Happy Birthday, Young Fellow -- and many of them!