navy

Amazingly, the islands of the world have held an importance during wartime, that most of us would never have dreamed. These seemingly insignificant places proved to be great staging places time and again, and so became places that were fought over viciously. The Solomon Islands were among those places fought over during World War II…most specifically Guadalcanal. The island of Guadalcanal is the largest of the Solomons Islands, which is in the South Pacific Ocean, located northeast of Australia. The Solomon Islands are a group of 992 islands and atolls, 347 of which are inhabited. The Solomons have 87 Indigenous languages. They were first discovered in 1568 by Spanish navigator Alvaro de Mendana de Neyra (1541-95). By 1893, the British had annexed Guadalcanal, along with the other central and southern Solomons, which made sense, since they also owned Australia. In 1885, the Germans took control of the northern Solomons, but transferred these islands, except for Bougainville and Buka (which eventually went to the Australians) to the British in 1900. So, the Solomon Islands have been transferred around some over the centuries, as most countries have been, a time or two anyway.

During World War II, Guadalcanal became a hard-fought-over island, with the Japanese in control in early 1943. Then, on February 8, 1943, Japanese troops evacuate Guadalcanal, leaving the island in Allied possession after a prolonged campaign. When Japan lost Guadalcanal, it paved the way for other Allied wins in the Solomon Islands.

The Japanese had invaded the Solomon Islands in 1942 during World War II and immediately began building a strategic airfield on Guadalcanal. On August 7, 1942, US Marines landed on the island, signaling the Allies’ first major offensive against Japanese-held positions in the Pacific. The Japanese response to the US Marines “boots on the ground” was to quickly launch sea and air attacks. The battles that followed were bloody and made even more miserable in the debilitating tropical heat. Nevertheless, the Marines fought hard with Japanese troops on land, and in the waters surrounding Guadalcanal, the US Navy fought six major engagements with the Japanese between August 24 and November 30. In mid-November 1942, the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, died together when the Japanese sank their ship, the USS Juneau. These days they try not to put brother together in battle, but the Sullivan brothers had requested it, and so it was granted.

Both the United States and the Japanese suffered heavy losses of men, warships, and planes in the battle for Guadalcanal. It is estimated 1,600 US troops were killed and over 4,000 were wounded. Several thousand more died from disease. The Japanese lost 24,000 soldiers. Finally, on December 31, 1942, Emperor Hirohito told his troops they could withdraw from the area. About five weeks later, the Americans secured Guadalcanal. American authorities declared Guadalcanal secure on February 9, 1943. After the war, American and Japanese groups have repeatedly visited Guadalcanal to search for remains of missing soldiers. Some 7,000 Japanese remain missing on the island, and islanders still bring the Japanese groups bones that the islanders say are those of unearthed Japanese soldiers.

My niece, Gaby Beach has had a very busy year. Following her graduation from nursing school, Gaby took a job at Wyoming Medical Center, where both she and her husband, Allen Beach now work. Gaby now works in the PCU, which is an area of the hospital for patients who don’t need to be in the ICU, but aren’t quite ready for the care they would get on a regular floor. Gaby really likes her job, and she has been assigned as the charge nurse periodically.

Because they both work at the hospital now, Gaby and Allen decided to buy a house near their work. They had been renting an apartment for Allen’s parents, Caryl and Mike Reed, but the place was far out in the country, and now that they were both working, they felt it was time for a home of their own. They found a great house that wasn’t too far from the hospital, and now they are working on making it their own, and enjoying the time with their dogs, Oly and Jasper. They’ve removed some trees in the back yard that we’re old and growing into power lines. They hope to build a garage in the back yard sometime in the near future, but for now they will most likely settle for a taller privacy fence.

Having school out of the way for now has been really nice for Gaby and Allen, who has a degree in Hospital administration. Gaby’s degree is in nursing, of course, and at some point, down the road, she plans to work toward her bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), but for now she wants to just relax and enjoy her job and life for a while.

They have plans to go to Disney World in April. They have worked very hard, and a fun break will be awesome for them. I’m sure that after a cold winter, a trip to sunny Florida would be really nice. Gaby and Allen really love to travel, but with Covid, they haven’t been able to do much of that, making this trip to Florida a big deal. Covid has kept everyone closer to home these days, but now it’s time to live a little. I know they will have a great time.

Gaby and Allen first met when they were in the Navy, stationed at the same place. That is also where Gaby became interested in becoming a nurse. Being a Corpsman taught her so much about medicine, and so when she was done with her term of service, she went back to school to become a nurse, and she has become an asset to the hospital. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Allen Beach has had a very busy year. Following his wife, Gaby’s graduation from nursing school, they decided to buy a house closer to Wyoming Medical Center, where they both now work. They quickly found the perfect house and moved in last March. They quickly set about getting settled and making the house their own. They’ve removed some trees in the back yard that we’re old and growing into power lines. They hope to build a garage in the back yard sometime in the near future, but for now they will most likely settle for a taller privacy fence.

Now that both of them have graduated from college, they have time for all the fun stuff. And speaking of fun stuff…Allen bought an old truck he’s been working on. It seems like most men have a dream of fixing up an old car or truck, and Allen is no different. That’s one way to have fun, but Disney World is another, so Allen and Gaby are planning a trip there in April. I’m sure that after a cold winter, a trip to sunny Florida would be really nice. Maybe they could pack me in their suitcase…if I promise to stay out of the way. No, probably not. Allen and Gaby also have two wonderful dogs, named Oly and Jasper. The dogs are truly their babies. They love playing with the dogs and the dogs love them.

They love to travel, but that has been curtailed these days. That is partly why this trip to Florida is such a big deal. After a wile of being locked down, it’s time to live a little. Allen and Gaby have traveled to many places all over the world, so being locked down is especially tough. Traveling to places like Bali or Japan, are more their style, but they are just places, and the real thing is being together. Allen and Gaby are best friends and have been since they first met, while they were both serving this great nation in the Navy. They both became corpsmen and knew that medicine would be their chosen field. While Gaby chose nursing, Allen chose hospital administration. Both of them are very good at their jobs, and Wyoming Medical Center is very blessed by their service. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Originally, in the United States, each branch of the service had their own day to celebrate their service, but on August 31, 1949, Defense Secretary Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Days. There was a good reason for it. The combination coincided with the unification of the three branches of the service under one agency…the Department of Defense. Man countries have an Armed Forces Day, and they are all done a little differently. In the United States, Armed Forces Day is celebrated on the third Saturday in May, which is near the end of Armed Forces Week, which begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May, or the fourth Saturday if the month begins on a Sunday, such as in 2016. Following the creation of Armed Forces Day in 1949, the holiday was first observed on May 20, 1950.

In his speech proclaiming the day as Armed Forces Day, on February 27, 1950, President Truman stated, “Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 20, 1950, marks the first combined demonstration by America’s defense team of its progress, under the National Security Act, toward the goal of readiness for any eventuality. It is the first parade of preparedness by the unified forces of our land, sea, and air defense.” Of course, there is more to planning a holiday that a day and a speech. The first Armed Forces Day was celebrated by parades, open houses, receptions, and air shows. The longest continuously running Armed Forces Day Parade in the United States is held in Bremerton, Washington.

There were a few glitches, however. The unique training schedules of the National Guard and Reserve units make the specific Saturday celebration difficult for these branches, so they have adapted to celebrate Armed Forces Day/Week over any period in the month of May. Every nation needs to celebrate the military forces. Where would we be without a strong military. As President Truman said, “It is vital to the security of the nation and to the establishment of a desirable peace.”

Each year, Armed Forces Day theme is different, because of course, each year more and more has changed. The very first theme was “Teamed for Defense.” Over the years, other themes have included Appreciation of a Nation; Arsenal of Freedom and Democracy; Dedication and Devotion; Deter if Possible, Fight if Necessary; Freedom; Freedom Through Unity; Guardians of Peace; Lasting Peace; Liberty; and Patriotism. In Washington DC, 10,000 troops of all branches of the military, cadets, and veterans marched past the president and his party. In New York City, an estimated 33,000 participants initiated Armed Forces Day “under an air cover of 250 military planes of all types.” Today, Armed Forces Day is celebrated in American communities and on military bases throughout the world with parades, picnics, shopping discounts, festivals, and parties. On May 19, 2017, President Donald Trump reaffirmed the Armed Forces Day holiday, marking the 70th anniversary since the creation of the Department of Defense.

When my nephew, Allen Beach was a little boy living in Washington state while his dad was in the Navy and out on a seven month cruise, my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens and her daughter, Lacey, Allyn Hadlock, and I went to visit our sister, Caryl Reed, who is Allen’s mom. That put Allen being the only boy in a crowd of women. For a boy of 3½ years, I’m sure that was overwhelming. All those bosses. Nevertheless, I think Allen had a good time.

I was thinking as Allen’s birthday approached, that no one had any idea where his life would take him. It’s not surprising that Allen followed in his dad’s footsteps, joining the Navy after graduating from high school, but truly, from there on out, it was unexpected. He had wanted to be train as a member of a flight crew for the navy, but small fracture of his foot caused him to have to give up that dream. While that was disappointing, Allen chose to go into the medical field, as a corpsman. The Navy can’t wait for six weeks to complete the training. That isn’t a totally unexpected thought either, because his mom, my sister, Caryl was a respiratory therapist. So, Allen trained to be a corpsman, and ended up serving in some pretty cool positions. He was a corpsman in Bethesda, Maryland at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, as part of the medical detail to the President of the United States, and then he was stationed in Japan, where he met his sweet future wife, Gaby, who was also a corpsman, and is now a nurse. On a wonderful trip to Bali, Allen proposed to Gaby, and when she accepted, he knew his life was complete.

Allen and Gaby returned to Walter Reed Military Medical Center to finish their time in the Navy, and then began their college educations. Gaby still had time left in the Navy, so Allen started first, and after finishing his studies and obtaining his degree in Hospital Administration, they decided to move to Casper, Wyoming where Allen has family, so Gaby could start college in the nursing program. Allen was hired by Wyoming Medical Center as the department manager over the Referral and Communications Departments. Later he also became department manager over the EMS Department. Who would have ever guessed that the little 3½ year old boy running around his parents home in Washington State would have gone on to do the great things he has. It just goes to show that you never know what a child might choose to become, and sometimes their life experiences can play a part in shaping their future, even if it is having a fractured foot. Sometimes, the things we thought we wanted, turn out not to be the best for our future…while another path becomes by far the best move. Today is Allen’s birthday. Happy birthday Allen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, my niece, Gaby Beach, who married my nephew Allen Beach on September 24, 2014, started working while Allen when to college to get his degree. Once he was finished, the plan was for Allen to work while Gaby went to school to get her degree. It was a good plan, because it allowed each of them to study hard, without having to work. They could devote themselves to their studies. While Allen now works as the department manager over referral, communications, ambulances, Gaby is getting ready to begin her second year of nursing school. Having worked as a corpsman in the Navy, nursing is a perfect next step for Gaby, who was a very good corpsman.

These days, when she’s not studying, Gaby has become very interested in house plants. She has a green thumb, and loves plants. She has decided to complete the “Let’s Grow Together In 2020” initiative. I looked over the program, and it would be really a cool thing to do…if I didn’t have a decidedly brown thumb. Unlike me, Gaby has a real knack for plants, and for arranging them. I know that her plants will beautify their home, and make it a healthier place too. Plants a good to have in the home…as long as you can keep them alive, that is. Gaby can do just that, and her plants are thriving. Her day 8 plant…the fastest grower was the Epipremnum Pinnatum or “Cebu Blue,” names I wouldn’t have known, had Gaby not posted them. I may not know much about plants, but I have enjoyed seeing Gaby’s posts about her adventures with them, and I look forward to the future posts as well.

Gaby ability to raise plants isn’t surprising, because she has a real knack for all living things. I am reminded of her work with therapy dogs during her Navy years. I’m ok with dogs, but I can’t say I’m “comfortable” with dogs. Cats yes, dogs…not so much. Gaby, on the other hand, is a natural. Dogs just instinctively love Gaby, as much as she loves them. And I think everyone in our family can understand that, because we have all come to love Gaby too. She brightens our world every time we see her. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In a war, there are many heroes…some whose acts of courage and selflessness were so amazing that many felt they needed to receive a different medal…one that paid homage to the incredible things they did. Often these medals were even given posthumously because the brave act of the hero, cost the recipients their lives. Before 1861, no such medal existed. President Abraham Lincoln didn’t think that was right. There were many brave soldiers, and while not all brave acts would qualify for the medal of honor, the most self sacrificing of them would…the ones who set aside their own safety to protect the lives of others.

For that reason, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law a measure calling for the awarding of a US Army Medal of Honor, in the name of Congress, “to such noncommissioned officers and privates as shall most distinguish themselves by their gallantry in action, and other soldier-like qualities during the present insurrection.” The previous December, Lincoln had approved a provision creating a US Navy Medal of Valor, which was the basis of the Army Medal of Honor created by Congress on July 12, 1862. War puts men and women into situations whereby the only choices are kill or be killed. That can be a scary proposition. These soldiers do not do what they do in order to receive a medal. In fact, a medal rarely crosses their minds at all. The first US Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

In 1863, the Medal of Honor was made a permanent military decoration available to all members, including commissioned officers, of the US military. It is conferred upon those who have distinguished themselves in actual combat at risk of life beyond the call of duty. Since its creation, during the Civil War, more than 3,400 men and one woman, Dr Mary Walker, have received the Medal of Honor for heroic actions in US military conflict. These people gave whatever it took to perform their duties. They were the best of the best, and the medal of honor was the best honor we could bestow on them. Of course, in Lincoln’s time, there was no air force, so that medal came later, as did the medals from the other branches of service, including the Coast Guard.

My niece, Gaby Beach spent much of her post high school years in the Navy. She worked very hard to get there, and continues to be an exercise enthusiast, and an inspiration to many people who would love to have such determination to stick to a program. She needed to get in shape to get into the Navy, and she wasn’t going to let anything stand in her way, especially something like a lack of determination. Now, she works out just about every day, because she doesn’t ever want to go back to a time when she was not physically fit.

While in the Navy, Gaby had the opportunity to be involved in a program that brought dogs into hospitals for the purpose of healing through comfort. Gaby loved that program, and since my mother-in-law was in a nursing home the last 5 years of her life, I can attest to the value of these dogs. So many of the residents loved the dogs that belonged to employees of the facility, and who wandered around the facility, “making their rounds” as it were. They were almost like little canine doctors. The experience was precious. The work Gaby did there was a benefit to many people.

Gaby has been a student for much of her life too, because she wants to prepare for her chosen career in nursing. Beginning January 20th, she will begin the journey through nursing school, and we are all very excited for her. During her time in the Navy, Gaby worked as a corpsman, so nursing is right up her alley. She was stationed in Japan, when she met my nephew, Allen Beach, and they have been married for four years now.

While Allen was going to school, Gaby worked, and then once Allen was hired by Wyoming Medical Center, it was Gaby’s turn. They moved to Casper, and she began the pre-requisites for the nursing program. Once those were done, she applied and was accepted into the program, and now she is waiting excitedly for the semester to begin. Gaby knows a lot about the nursing field, having come from a corpsman background, so there should be no surprises for her in the program. It is an exciting journey, and I am excited for her. Nursing school is a lot of hard work, but I know that she will do just fine, and very soon, she will be Nurse Gaby. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Two days ago, I wrote a story in celebration of my Uncle George Wave Hushman’s 92nd birthday. Little did I now that it would also be the day of his home-going, but it was. It is a rather rare thing, except in infant deaths, for someone to be born and die on the same day, but that is what my Uncle George did. He was born on December 20, 1926 in Rock River, Wyoming, and went home to Heaven on December 20, 2018 in Mills, Wyoming…exactly 92 years later.

Uncle George led an unusual life, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that his home-going would be just as unusual. He lost his mother when he was just eleven years old. I’m not sure how long after her passing, before he was sent to the Wyoming State Children’s Home in Casper, Wyoming, but during those years, his guardian was listed as Ethel S. Kittle. Uncle George didn’t know much about his family for most of his life, but his dad, also named George Wave Hushman was in the Navy, stationed in the Philippines when he was killed in action on November 21, 1943…Uncle George was just 17 years old. To his knowledge, that left him very much alone in this world, except for his friend James Wesley Saint John ‘Wes” and Wes’ family, who had unofficially adopted him as a part of their family. Wes, who was three years older than Uncle George was lost at sea on September 9, 1943. While Uncle George didn’t know his father well, he did know his friend, and I find it unusual that he enlisted in the Navy too, but he did. His Draft Card listed his next of kin as WE Saint John. He mustered out on May 31, 1944, and was later listed among the wounded. I am grateful that he was one of those who made it home from the war. Uncle George, was first assigned to LCI(L) 23…Landing Craft Infantry (L)23. He later mustered out on USS Gurke (DD-783), a Gearing-class destroyer.

By 1946, Uncle George was released from the Navy, and was living in Mills, Wyoming, and falling in love with my aunt, Evelyn Byer, whom he married on September 1, 1947. He had found the love of his life, and he only wanted to be with her for the rest of his life…missing her terribly after she passed away on May 4, 2015. Aunt Evelyn and Uncle George would be blessed with five children, George Hushman, Susie Young, Shelly Campbell, Shannon Limmer, and Greg Hushman. They were also blessed with many grandchildren, great grand children, and great great grandchildren. Uncle George was also blessed to be able to reunite with his half siblings over the years, although their passings brought him a feeling of losing them twice. Now that they are together again in Heaven, Uncle George will never have to be away from his beloved Evelyn, or the other loved ones who had gone before him. Rest in peace Uncle George. We love and miss you very much.

Most of the time, the oldest sibling is the first to marry, and true to that thought, my Aunt Evelyn Byer was the first of my Grandma and Grandpa Byer’s nine children to marry. The love of her life turned out to be George Hushman, a young man who was raised in the children’s home in Casper, Wyoming, after losing both of his parents at a very young age. His mother, Wyoma Woodfork Hushman passed away when George was just 11 years old, and his dad, George Wave Hushman was killed in action during World War II, when George was just 17 years old. Uncle George’s dad was unable to take care of him after his mother died, so at some point he ended up in the children’s home. I’m sure many people would think that his would always be a sad story, but it wasn’t. Uncle George had a friend James Wesley Saint John…who went by Wes. They were good friends, and Uncle George spent a lot of time at his parents house. Wes’ mom, Hettie Saint John became like an adopted mom to Uncle George. She was a very stabilizing influence in his life. As the years went on the two men grew up and went into the service. Unfortunately, only one of them would come back home. Wes was lost at sea in 1944, and they never found out what happened to him. It was a hard loss for Hettie, and for Uncle George.

Uncle George went on to marry my Aunt Evelyn on September 1, 1947. While the sadness of losing his friend and not knowing any of his family lingered, Uncle George was a very happy family man. He and Aunt Evelyn would be blessed with five children, and they would be married for almost 68 years before Aunt Evelyn’s passing in 2015. Uncle George has been in frail health since Aunt Evelyn’s passing, but I know that their time together is still vivid in his mind, because she was the love of his life. I remember so many fun times they had with my parents. they bowled together, double dated, went to dances, and spent time at each others house. They were more that sisters and brothers-in-law, they were best friends. I really miss those good times they had, because w, their kids got to have those good times too. Today is Uncle George’s 92nd birthday. What an amazing milestone that is. Happy birthday Uncle George!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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