Remembering the heroes who died defending our nation this Memorial Day

PR1 William E. Davis

My grandfather, Parachute Rigger 1st Class William E. Davis, U.S. Navy (1942-1945)

Memorial Day is considered (by some) to be the kick-off for summer, the first picnic of the year, the pool opening weekend, etc. Yet for those of us who served in the United States military, it means so much more… And it should to you too.

Memorial Day is day of reflection, to remember the more than 650,000 service members who died during the many wars fought by the United States. From the Revolutionary War to Operation Enduring Freedom, these battles demonstrated the sacrifice made to keep freedom alive, defend liberty, and save lives. Those sacrifices by the men and women of our armed forces are still happening today as they serve in harm’s way all around the world.

I would like to take a moment to remember my hero, my inspiration for serving in the U.S. Navy. My grandfather, Parachute Rigger 1st Class William E. Davis, joined the U.S. Navy on October 12, 1942 and served until October 8, 1945. He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bataan (CVL-29). He earned five battle stars during his tour of duty, including the Invasion of the Marianas Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Battle of Okinawa, and the attack on the Japanese homeland until they surrendered and the war ended. After the war, he returned home to West Virginia where he worked at one of the local glass factories. My grandfather died in 1982.

Both my mother and my Uncle Mike were inspired by his service and joined the Navy themselves. My mom served until she met and married my father, a Marine, and my Uncle Mike served during the Vietnam War aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the same ship I served on at the end of my naval career.

Military service runs deep in my family. Besides my grandfather, parents, my uncle and I, two other uncles, a brother, sister-in-law, and nephew who served in the Marine Corps and a cousin who also served in the Navy. Even in my genealogy research, I found ancestors who fought on both sides of the Civil War, and one ancestor who served in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War. I am very proud of that military heritage and I always take this day (and every day) to reflect on that service to our nation.

A part of that daily reminder sits on my desk at work. Next to my grapdfather’s picture is what looks like an ordinary pair of scissors, but actually, they are more than that. These were the scissors my grandfather used when he was packing parachutes for the pilots flying off the Bataan in World War II. I look at those scissors and I wonder how many pilots survived the war thanks to the efforts of my grandfather. It is a constant reminder of his service and how grateful I am for his sacrifice for our nation. It is a constant source of inspiration for me to strive to be the best I can be.

Please honor and remember our fallen veterans this Memorial Day. If you have family or friends that served and died for our country, visit their grave today and remember their sacrifice for our nation.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

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