On Veteran’s Day, I am reminded of the life of my maternal grandfather, Joesph Thomas Dickerson.
At age 17, so anxious was he to defend his country during WW I that he fibbed about his age and enlisted. By age 18, he had become a regimental sargent major, the highest non-commissioned rank in the US Army.
News of my grandfather’s patriotism made it’s way to the editor of his hometown newspaper. The following is excerpt is taken from a letter the editor wrote to Joe’s father (my great grandfather) on April 21, 1917.
“I am not surprised that Joe has decided to enlist and while it fills me with sadness I am proud of him as I know you are. The closing words of his first letter “Let me attend to this emergency job first”, thrilled me–I have seen no finer expression of heroic sentiment–God bless his brave little heart. Your boy is obeying the highest behest of duty, true to the vision of unselfish devotion to the couse of humanity. Could he do more?”
Actually, yes, he could do more. In his mid-40s when WW II began, he felt compelled to enlist, leaving behind my mom and grandmother. He joined the Air Force and reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in combat intelligence. His job was to brief crews on bombing missions and debrief them upon their return. He flew on seven bombing missions.
I am overwhelmed when I consider his life of service to our country and am proud to be his grandson.