This Mississippi Monday we decided to do something a little different. Instead of interviewing a business or person from Mississippi, we thought we would honor those men and women who have proudly lost their lives fighting for our country. Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have lost their lives, but it is also a chance for us to give thanks to those who have served or are serving our country through the different military branches. Most of us up here at Thimblepress have known or know someone currently serving in a branch of military, or even someone who has lost their life serving. Personally, both my grandfathers and uncle served in the military. I can't imagine what it would be like to lose a family member this way; so I lift up those moms, dads, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, friends, nephews, nieces, who have lost someone they care about, and lost them in one of the most selfless ways possible. I have not experienced that loss, but in my own way of honoring those fallen, I decided to write a little bit about each grandfather and interview my Uncle Don who served in the Marines for 20 years.
STANLEY SCHWENKER, NAVY
My mom's dad, Stanley Schwenker, from Taylor, Texas served in the Navy. At the age 18 he was drafted to serve as a gunner's mate on a ship that was sailing in the South Pacific during World War II. Initially he was on a tender supply ship (resupplies other ships), but after it was torpedoed and sunk, he was rescued and began serving on a destroyer.
HUGO LEY. ARMY AIR CORPS
My dad's dad, Hugo Ley, from Needville, Texas served in the Army Air Corps. At the age 18 he was drafted to serve as a cryptographer during World War II. Cryptography was highly used during World War II to break and write codes back and forth. After the war, he served as a cook.
DON SAWATZKY, MARINES
My Uncle, Don Sawatzky, now from Addison, Texas served in the Marines. On August 24, 1967, Don traveled from Giroux Manitoba, Canada down to Fargo, North Dakota where he joined the Marines at age 20. He went to basic training in San Diego, California with later transfer to Camp Pendleton in Southern California for a short period of time. In February 1968 he was transferred to Vietnam where he served the Marines in Artillery from 1968-1969. He was at Banang, Vietnam up to the de-militarized zone (DMZ). He served at Banang, Hill 55, Dong Ha, Camp Carroll, and Charlie-4 (c-4). I asked him why he joined the Marines and he said the following,"My father taught me that communism was the greatest form of evil and communism has a domino effect, they take another after another after another, and because of my upbringing I felt like I needed to help in stopping communism. I became a citizen in the United States upon returning to the United States after Vietnam." From Vietnam Don returned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and then to Marine Barracks in Long Beach, California where he then became military police. As a military policeman, he traveled to Albany, Georgia, then to recruiting duty in Lubbock, Texas and Abilene, Texas. Continuing in the Marines, he volunteered to attend electronic school in Twenty Nine Palms, California. From California he was transferred to Okinawa, Japan for a year using what he had learned in electronic school over there to fix radios or anything electronic he could fix. Tustin, California was his next stop on his service in the Marines where he was the Maintenance Chief, responsible for all radios on base for four years. After leaving Tustin, Don moved to El Torro, California where he worked until he retired from the Marines in 1987 after 20 years of service. In 1991 Don was recalled for Desert Storm and stationed in Twenty Nine Palms, California, from where he re-retired. Don currently lives in Addison, Texas with his wife, my aunt, Susan.
This Monday, we raise up a HUGE Thank you to all the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom! We wanted to do something special for those men and women who have served or are serving in the military by providing you with some downloadable images that can be printed out, shared or posted to social media to show how proud we are of you and how thankful we are to those who sacrificed for our freedom! We hope you enjoy. Many prayers to those families who have experienced a loss; We are so grateful for their service and dedication to our country.