Monday, May 29, 2006


Memorial Day in the US is for the remembrance of those who died fighting for their country. I don't know of anyone related to me who has died in battle, but there've been a few who did serve in the military and saw combat.

My great-great-great-uncle Andrew Kincannon (d. 1829), fought in the battle of King's Mountain (1780) against American Tories and the British.

My great-grandfather Joseph Pope Morgan ("Granpappy", d. 1933) served in the Confederate Army (3rd Mississippi) and was wounded in the battle of Chickamauga.

My step-grandfather Bill Erkelens (d. 1965), flew in bomber biplanes in World War I as the gunner. "How many German planes did you shoot down?" I asked him once, when I was a kid. He said, "Just one," and looked away. Not a good memory.

My uncle Joe Morgan (d. 1966), served in the Pacific Theater in World War II, most notably on the island of Peleliu.

My father, Charles G. Cook (d. 1985), was a bomber pilot (B-17's) during World War II. In 1948, he flew C-47's in the Berlin Airlift. Later, in the early '50's, he was stationed on Guam and was a "typhoon spotter," flying 27 missions into the center of typhoons to gather meteorological data.

My brother, Chuck Cook, was in Vietnam (I think actually Cambodia) as a radio communications specialist.

I'll also mention my wife Amy's illustrious ancestor, Nathaniel Chapman, who was one of the original Minutemen and fought at Bunker Hill. One of his children, John Chapman, became better known as Johnny Appleseed. (JA's half-brother, also named Nathaniel, is Amy's great-great-great-grandfather.)

Me? I gave up my student deferment in 1971; that year my lottery number was 189, and they didn't draft me. According to the rules in place then, if you weren't drafted the first year you were 1-A, you couldn't be drafted later. Although I had grave misgivings about Vietnam (who didn't?), I had no plans to dodge the draft or to declare myself a conscientious objector. If I had, my father might have done me serious harm, and I was more afraid of him than of the Viet Cong. But by the luck of the draw, I was passed by. Nothing to be proud of, but at least no one had to go in my place.


Weekend Fisher said...

Hmm, I'm a Morgan also, on my paternal grandmother's side. Do you go back to the Dread Pirate Roberts ... er, I mean, Sir Henry Morgan the pirate? We could be cousins.

Ken said...

That's certainly a honorable history of service!