Today is November 11, Veterans' Day in the United States. Although I only got as far as a recruiter's office before deciding that I was too afraid to serve after all, there were quite a few other family members who did serve honorably. One of them was my grandfather, Floyd Beach. Here he is in his Navy uniform sitting outside an unidentified building near the start of his military career.
He was born on 11 June 1912 in Indiana, and had enlisted with the Navy at the office in Indianapolis. He served aboard a number of ships during his career, sailing around the globe. The story that is remembered most by family members was of his service aboard the USS Curtiss in 1941. On the morning of December 7, he was aboard the ship at the time of the attack at Pearl Harbor. Floyd was one of the machinist mates on board the ship, and when the attack occurred, he was one of three men who worked in the engine room to get the ship out of the harbor. He survived the battle without personal injury, but the ship took hits from a couple Japanese planes. Floyd and the two others who worked with him were later commended in a letter from Admiral Nimitz (at the time he was Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet) for their actions during the attack.
Floyd served on several more ships before retiring to California. He died on 1 March 2000 and is buried in Linden, Indiana, the town where he grew up. My parents tell me that they took me to meet him when I was a baby, but beyond that, I never saw him. A family dispute kept him separated from my immediate family until the late 1990s, by which time I had moved away from California.
On this Veterans' Day, I have one thing to say to him as well as all of the other family members and everyone who has served in all branches of the military: thank you.