Monday, November 11, 2013


November 11, 2013

*My father joined the Navy after his father, by then a very wealthy farmer, refused to send him to college.  According to my father, because neither the town of Marksville, La. nor the hospital kept birth records, he was able to go to the parish priest and get a “birth certificate” with a date inserted that would make him old enough to join the military.  While this birth certificate showed him to be 18 years old, in truth my father was only 15 when he went off to war. 

He told me stories of his travels in the Navy and about the beautiful women of the Philippines he met along the way. He even had an album filled with pictures of his Filipino “girlfriends.” This Filipino connection would be the underpinning of his Navy career. But one of the most haunting stories was how he described walking through the ruins of bombed-out Hiroshima and he swore that the metal fragments on the ground were still warm.

Once, while working in the ship’s galley (an assignment he got because the Navy thought he was Filipino and that the French he spoke must have been Tagalog), he could not resist the temptation to steal a slice of the roast being prepared for the Admiral.  He was caught and punished for this lack of judgment; a court martial consisting of a piece of paper in his file with a large red “X.”  When he was discharged from the ship, he was handed his file and promptly tore out the sheet with the “X.”  That was the end of that. 

By the time my father was honorably discharged from the Navy he held the rank of Chief Petty Officer mainly because he was super smart, but also because the Navy never discovered or acknowledged his true ethnicity.

*Excerpted from the book in progress “From Nestier to Oakland, An Ongoing Journey", author Sheryl J. Bize Boutte @2011

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