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Monday, May 26, 2008

My dad, the Army, and Brace Clement

My dad served in World War II in Africa, Italy and France. Millions of Americans can say that; I hope the others are as proud of their dads as I am of mine. Dad was drafted into the Army after Pearl Harbor. His job was to type classified documents. Knowing how to type probably saved his life, because in northern Africa, he got called out of a lineup one day because he could type. The Army gave him an office job. Most of the rest of the people in line that day were dead within 30 days.

I also think of Brace Clement today on Memorial Day. He came to UIS as a transfer student, then had to spend a year in Iraq. He was in the Marines. I got acquainted with him because of his interest in state government and his involvement in student government. One day, as I recall it, some of his friends held a bake sale to raise money to send him a care package in Iraq. I bought something and picked up a magnetic yellow ribbon from the table and displayed it on my office door. I told lots of people, "That's for Brace. I'm going to show it to him someday." And I did. Brace came home and came back to UIS. He came to my office, I pointed to the ribbon, and I said, "That's for you." He got his degree in 2006 and is doing very well.

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At May 28, 2008 at 2:47 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was never whether or not my Dad was going to serve, but when. His friends were all older than him and were able to enlist immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Being left behind didn’t sit well with him. By April of 1943, he grew so impatient that he got my grandmother to lie about his age on an enlistment form just one month shy of his 17th birthday. He joined the navy and was sent to fight in the Pacific. During the war, he drove landing crafts back and forth with troops. He always told me that he saw little of the actual fighting because he got good at driving to the beach with his head ducked down.

After the war, he spent 20 years in the service and retired at the old age of 36. He went on to college and got a teaching degree paid by the G.I. bill. His specialty was teaching, but his passion was advising veterans going back to college. He once told me that helping these men and women get an education was just as important as the time served for his country.

At June 3, 2008 at 11:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

really an interesting post based on real life

At December 4, 2008 at 10:08 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never saw this, Ed...

... Thank you for the kind words. You are a good friend. UIS is lucky to have you.~ Brace Clement


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