I hope you all had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.

I was very pleased with the numerous responses to my Veteran’s Day blog. I want to thank those of you who took the time to write me a personal response. Some of you even shared stories of your service or those of relatives. I enjoyed each and every one.

Let me share my personal favorite service story. It’s not about me, but it’s the story of my late father’s service. Dad was a Kansas farm boy who had moved to California as a teenager. Shortly after high school, while working at an aircraft plant, war broke out and he volunteered to join the Navy.

After basic training, he was sent to Idaho for additional technical training. He and twelve others were assigned to CASU 11, an acronym for Carrier Aircraft Service Unit. Most of the twelve just happened to be mid-western gentlemen.

After training they received their orders and were sent to San Francisco to ship out to Guadalcanal in the South Pacific. Most of the group had never seen the ocean before. Because they didn’t have quarters on the ship that was filled with trucks and other equipment, they built wooden quarters on the top deck. That’s all they had for the month-long cruise. Well, that and looking out for Japanese torpedoes.

Once in Guadalcanal, they searched for their unit to report. Unable to find it, they got hold of some tents, pieces of tire rubber to make hammocks, and other objects to set up their own living facility. Not exactly the Ritz, especially when the Japanese dive bombers visited at night, but it was their home for the next eighteen months. They never did find their unit which they later discovered had been relocated.

Dad and his friends worked out in the hot sun every day repairing aircraft shot up from their missions. My dad was a strapping guy with a 50” chest. While on the island, he never wore a shirt and cut up pants into comfortable shorts. Being a farm boy used to fresh fruits, eggs, meat, etc., he hated the powdered food they were served. Even the milk and eggs were powdered. Each of his buddies survived the war and when they returned home, Dad’s tan lasted over a year and he looked like Tarzan with his broad chest and 29” waist.

CASU 11 sailed under the Golden Gate and disembarked in San Francisco. Once off the ship, they all headed for the nearest coffee shop where Dad swears he ate two dozen eggs and drank several glasses of orange juice.

They were just average guys doing what their country asked in a terrible time. One more thing I’d like to share. The guys all went their separate ways and my Dad stayed in California after meeting and marrying the love of his life, my mom. More than forty years later, two weeks after retiring, Dad got a call from the DMV. They confirmed his name and asked him to stay near his phone. A few minutes later, one of his old buddies came on the line and asked, “Is this Frank?” When my dad said “yes” the man started crying. He had been searching for some time trying to find all the members of CASU 11 and had put together a reunion at the Lake of the Ozarks. My dad was the last member to be found and he and my mom caught a plane to meet the group.

Obviously, it was a great time for all of them. The bond was so strong; they continued to meet once and sometimes twice a year for the rest of their lives. They called each other weekly and made private visits to each other’s homes. When they slowed down, their children provided transportation and enjoyed the group’s visits and stories. They were humble men, but true patriots and heroes.

I’m often asked, “What does your license plate, CASU 11 stand for?” I always enjoy telling them the story.


John Parker

John Parker