His grandfathers’ service

Published 12:40 pm Thursday, December 8, 2016

I’ve never served in the military — I was built more like Steve Rogers before he got the Super Soldier Serum to become Captain America.

The thing is, I didn’t have good feelings about the military growing up in the 1970s and ’80s. Part of that was because of the way many Americans reacted to the Vietnam War. I think more of it had to do with the fact the military had taken my maternal grandfather, Jon Price Evans, away from me when I was only 3.

Jon died in 1968 while aboard a military transport plane that crashed — supposedly, but never proven, due to sabotage. My grandmother, Dorothy, was aboard and never got over his death. She spent much of the last 30 years of her life in a nursing home after suffering an aneurysm about five or six years later.

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On my father’s side of the family, I knew my grandfather, Ira Cahn, had been in the Navy, but it wasn’t until I was in my 30s and in the newspaper business, that I learned exactly what he did. I always thought, because of his culinary prowess at Passover and Thanksgiving, that he’d been ship’s cook. Instead, he was a pharmacist’s mate, helping to patch up the wounded — on D-Day.

It was an amazing revelation that made me ask more questions about Jon (he was a fairly renowned Army medical officer) and upped my respect for veterans immeasurably.

Upon learning about both my grandfathers’ service, I also got lucky enough to begin writing stories about veterans, primarily through the American Legion. I even got to be with a number of them on Memorial Day 2004 in Washington, D.C., for the National World War II Memorial’s official dedication.

To our veterans and active military here and everywhere, I thank you for your service.

Martin L. Cahn is the managing editor of The Farmville Herald. His email is martin.cahn@farmvilleherald.com.