The Conflicts of a War Vet

Jane Atwood

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My grandfather was born in 1948 and raised in Windsor, Connecticut to a hard working, middle class family. Before he was drafted in the Air Force, he was just like any other high school student. College was not an option since he had to join the war.

 

This week I had the opportunity to talk to one of my heroes about spending a little over 20 years as a mechanic in the Air Force. My grandfather Paul LaFleur took the time to talk to me on the phone on Friday November 17 2017 about his challenging yet rewarding experience.

 

Although he did not want to go into war, he accepted what life had given him: “Even though war is devastating and horrific, it happens and I had to accept that”. My grandfather decided that if he was being drafted, he might as well choose what branch most interested him. He decided to be a mechanic in the Air Force, since he was a mechanic prior to joining the Air Force.

 

My grandfather had the same training as everyone else, just in case he was sent to Vietnam. Although he accepted the idea of going to war, it was something he did not have in mind: “The thought of being sent to war is terrifying and I really did not want to go. I tried to accept it, stay strong for my friends and family, and make the best out of the situation.”

 

He was never sent to Vietnam but when the war had ended, he had a difficult time re adjusting to life at home: “It was hard making that switch and I felt like it happened really fast. I have to give credit to your grandmother for being patient with me and trying to help”. It took a lot of strength within my family and our friends to help him move on with life.

 

After the war my grandfather started his own business with my grandmother. My grandfather wanted to continue being a mechanic, so that is what he did. My grandparents shared the work and were able to build something from nothing.

 

My grandfather kept in contact with his friends in the Air Force and continued to participate/volunteer for anything that came his way. He had an influence on my uncle who also later joined the Air Force and was sent to a few countries, but never faced combat.

 

My grandfather used his experience to remind me that life is not fair and to expect the unexpected. He also taught me to make the best out of every situation and to keep a sense of humor. Although not everyone may not see him as a hero, he is my hero and will always be someone I look up to.