My Father, the ‘real William Wynne,’ turns 88 today. Here are a few shots from the family album to celebrate the life of my hero:
Above, My Father as a 17 year old enlisted man in WWII. He stands between his beloved pony Bob, his constant companion since he was a little boy, and his own father. My grandfather served in every station on the Passaic NJ police department from patrolman, Chief of Detectives to assistant Chief. Passaic was a very large tough working city with a significant organized crime problem. Recognized as incorruptible, he was targeted by the mob, but would not be intimidated. The only years he took off from law enforcement in his adult life were 1917-1919 when he was a Sargent in the 78th division in France where he saw savage combat in the trenches. His only real wish in life was that his own son would not have the same experience. It didn’t come true, as my father went to both Korea and Vietnam.
Above, the love of my father’s life, my mother at age 17 also. Mother lived in Irvington NJ, about 20 miles away. They met at the NJ shore in the summer of 1946, and have been married since 1950. Above, my mother at age 26, standing in front of their 1950 Buick super eight Convertible. Mom had just had my older brother 6 weeks before. My father was being shelled in Korea at the moment of his son’s birth. You can read the story of my brother’s arrival at this link:
Above, Dad as the base XO at Davisville RI in the 1960s, shooting a Garand. He is wearing a shooting jacket, but the uniform and the shoes suggest he came straight from the office. He held Expert ratings with both rifle and pistol. Dad has always been good at anything that required hand eye coordination.
Above, Father at the table (holding the papers) Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MAC-V) in Saigon, 1966. Almost all of his work in South East Asia 1966-74 was working on infrastructure. You can read about some of it at this link:
Above is Father’s 1966 office door sign from Saigon. OICC stands for “Officer in Charge of Construction”. The construction budget for The Republic of Vietnam in 1966 was one billion dollars, the largest construction project in the world to that point. My father was one of many Americans who felt that the South Vietnamese deserved to live the same life that South Koreans had gained 12 years before. To understand my fathers perspective, read this link:
Above, Father in Cambodia, playing the role of civilian for a day in a country that only was ‘neutral’ in title only. The photo was from the early 1970’s when we lived in Thailand. With dad is the US ambassador. The Cambodian communist genocide that killed millions of people following the US withdraw was documented in the film “The Killing Fields” To many people, it was a horrific story about people in a far off land they had only a passing interest in. To my father there were real human beings, people with families that he knew and fought beside. America has many fine points, but we have a terribly short national attention span that has cost others dearly.
Above, Our Family in 1974, when we lived in Thailand. Alison, Michael, Melissa, Mother me and Dad. In the background is the actual bridge on the river Kawai. The train ride from Bangkok was many hours. All along the tracks were cemeteries for the 350 POW’s that died per mile, tortured by the Japanese army to build the rail line from Bangkok to Rangoon, later called “the death railway.” We had many happy times growing up, but my father made sure that we fully understood how lucky we were to have been born in a free country. Many Americans of my generation and younger who were blindly raised in suburbia, have the twisted view that America’s beacon to the world is one of capitalism and material wealth. My father raised us to know that our home was the beacon of the world for human rights, the value of individuals, and freedom.
When I was little, we went to the Jefferson Memorial and read the words inscribed on the inside of the dome:
“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”
This is what my father taught us was at the very core of being an American. He has lived all his adult life by this code, as his father lived before him. It is his lasting gift to us his children, just as it was bequeathed by his own father. It remains, a gift I am most thankful for. – WewJr.