My Favorite World War Two Veteran: My Father

My father on Veterans Day with two of his grandchildren: Kathy and Kevin

My father, Elmer Earley, was in church on December 7, 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and he and his buddies in his church’s men’s group immediately decided they would enlist. My dad had just turned 21. He tried the Air Force but it wouldn’t take him because he had chronic asthma. The Navy turned him down next. But by that point,  he knew what answers the military doctors wanted to hear so he bypassed the local recruiting stations and drove to Philadelphia where there were no records of his earlier attempts. The Coast Guard took him.

Last month, he turned 94 and although dementia has robbed him of nearly all of his memories and confused his thoughts, when I visited him today at the memory care unit where he lives, he remembered the war and that he had served in the Coast Guard.

It was a reminder to me about how complicated our brains are. My father thinks his siblings are still alive (all have passed) and he can’t tell you what day or year it is. Often his words come out jumbled and it is difficult for him to complete a thought. But he remembered being in the service during the war and how much he loves our country.

Thanks for your service Dad, and thanks to all of the men and women in our military who have and are serving our nation.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.