Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day for the U.S. Military Fallen

Bus and Jerry Hunter

Hunter 1st cousins and sibllings in grandparents yard, c1944. Left to Right: 1st row, Vickie Crain. 2nd row: Jerry Hunter, Bobby Crain, Eddie Hunter, and Frances Hunter. 3rd row: Jimmy Crain.

Jerry learning to fly.

Robert Gerald "Jerry" Hunter (1941-1966)

From the magazine LOOKING GOOD DOUGLAS COUNTY, Vol 1, Number 3, March/April 1988. Article JERRY HUNTER: he gave his life. By Vicki Harsbarger.
Jerry Hunter, 25, was about to complete his 34th mission of the Vietnam War.
The two months he had spent in Vietnam had been filled with missions such as this one. Supply lines were sought, supply lines were bombed.
The F-105 was a one-man jet requiring much expertise of the pilot. He delivered his bombs directly on the targeted bridge. The enemy fire hit the plane, he bailed out. The pilots watched as the parachute disappeared from sight in the trees.
From the ground, a beeper signal was heard by the pilots. They attempted a rescue, but enemy fire struck from the area of the area where the parachute had landed. A second plane was hit, and the pilots were forced to return to base.
Two months later, American soldiers were able to search the place where Robert Gerald Hunter went down. Laos natives took the men to the place where his body was buried.
Jerry began his final journey home to be buried in the town where he was voted most talented of Douglas County High School; where he dreamed of one day attending the Citadel; and where of dream of becoming a pilot began with an essay written on how Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic would affect the future of aviation.
Awards came early for Jerry Hunter. He was honored with other superlatives at Douglas County High School, with his claim to fame the title of Most Talented. He was well known for his artistic talents, and worked as editor of the school yearbook. He starred in the senior play.
"If anything happens to him, he's doing what he wants to do", his wife of one year, Laura Ann Milby, had said of Hunter. His parents, Robert and Zelma, had suggested that he choose a line of work in keeping with his Citadel degree in business administration, but he would not settle for less than his dreams.
"He wanted to be the best." Zelma Hunter reminisces. "He always wanted to be a good pilot. He said if he made a good place for himself in the Air Force he would make a career of it or he would be become a commercial pilot," she said.
The handsome flyer passed all manner of physical tests toprove his fitness of pilot training, which he received at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta following his graduation from the Citadel with honors. Minor surgery was suffered twice by Hunter in order to fly the F-105, Mrs. Hunter said.
"He didn't want us to worry," Mrs. Hunter says lovingly of her son. "I'd ask him on the telephone if he'd been shot at, wanting him to say no. He'd say, "Yes, but they missed. Don't worry about it, Mom, sometimes it's fun."
During the week while the Hunters awaited the return of Jerry's body, the Chamber of Commerce acting on a motion by Church of Christ Minister Richard Waggoner, passed a resolution recommending that the park be memorably named Hunter Park.
On July 18, 1966, the Hunters' hopes died with the news of their son's death and his returning body. On July 22, funeral services were held at the Church where Jerry became a Christian, First Baptist Church of Douglasville. The church was overflowing as the first Douglas County military and 11th Citadel victim of the Vietnam war was laid to rest.
Over 100 flags flew at Douglasville businesses, painstakingly placed there by the remembering hands of the Jaycees. The town was subdued as businesses closed for the afternoon.
As faces were in unison at Rose Memorial Gardens Cemetery toward the casket containing the remains of Robert Gerald Hunter, the sound of planes roared overhead, urging the mourners to gaze upward.
Four planes flew across the horizon in unison, three planes returned.

Jerry's father "Bus" Hunter at Hunter Park after his 96th birthday party.

Douglasville, Georgia, has named a sports complex park in Jerry's memory.


I wish the HBO series PACIFIC, the ten part series of a company of Marines that fought in the islands of Pacific ended last night instead of one week ealier. It would have been timelier.

However, if it had ended last night, it might have bumped, or became the bumpee, of the Washington DC Memorial Service on PBS where entertainers sung, played instruments, and had readings in tribute of the military fallen. One would surely cancel out the other.

Today is Memorial Day. The day is to memorialize those who have given their lives serving their country, or defending us. It is also a day to give thanks for the ones that served their country and survived.

The fallen ones that lived have to go through the rest of their lives being haunted by terrors (killings) that most of us cannot even imagine.

I remember as a kid during World War II some young men returning home just weren't quiet right. Some were zombies, some developed into alcoholics, and some did a flip flop from reality.

And some return home with all their limbs blown off and had to relearn motor skills.

I heard on the CBS Sunday Morning News Show a couple year ago that some of the returning mentally injured military personnel are dishonorably or medically discharged, thus eliminating the military's huge expensive rehabilitation cost. I hope that is not true, or if it was, I hope it has been discontinued. Is that anyway to show thanks to those who gave it all defending us Americans? It is like they were treated royalty when they were an asset defending their country, but when injured while doing so and became a liability, they wanted to get rid of them.

It is like the age old question, “But what have you done for me lately?”

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife's cousin was in the U.S. Air Force in 69 and came through Travis AFB in California on his way to Vietnam. My wife took him to see the sights in the area, San Francisco, etc. He spend a couple of days with us. The night he was to leave, he called from Travis and asked if we could pick him up, his flight was delayed. I drove out to the base (as a service rep on C-141's, I had base access) and brought him home for dinner and some conversation. Afterward, I took him back out to the base for his flight.

He was killed in Cambodia in a a fiberglass canopy on the bottom for observing the enemy on a plane that crashed in Vietnam.

I was the last in the family to see him and someone would always ask at family reunions how he was that last day before leaving for Vietnam. His son was born after his death.

Mike D

12:28 PM  

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