Remembering The Greatest Generation of Military Mom’s…

by | May 23, 2024

Remember Pearl Harbor…

Mother knew that her husband, Vernon, was aboard the Battleship USS West Virginia at the moment the first torpedoes struck his ship. I can only imagine what was going through her mind at the time as a new mom holding my older brother Jerry in her arms… just 3 months old at the time.

For weeks it must have been a heart wrenching emotional roller coaster until she learned that Vernon survived and that he would soon come home…she prayed and prayed. Mother always had great faith in God and was raised as a Catholic in St. Paul, Minnesota.

She waited, and waited, and waited some more. Vernon joined the Harbor Patrol right after his ship, USS West Virginia (BB48), was sunk in Pearl Harbor on that fateful day. Mother had no idea when or how he would come home since in those years it was very difficult to communicate with loved ones who were fighting for our freedoms around the globe.

Coming home briefly…

Vernon came home briefly many weeks after the start of WWII, but only for a short time to see his first born son. She said good bye again a few days later not knowing whether her husband, Vernon, would return home again. I can only imagine how mother felt at the time. I know she prayed constantly that he would return home safely.

I think of the strength and faith needed for military spouses and moms of that time to endure the emotional turmoil connected with the war. Military wives like my mom had to keep the home fires burning and hold on dearly to faith that loved ones would return home safe. They also knew that caring for the young children born before the war and during the war was of paramount importance to winning the war itself. Military families serve too.

Waiting & praying...
Marcella spent most of the next 4 years as a single mom waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more. Finally, Vernon returned home from the war in June 1945. She was so happy and grateful that God spared her husband’s life when so many of her friends spouses were killed in action during that time.

The trauma of war…

Sadly, she soon discovered that the war came home with Vernon, starting with an extended post war “readjustment” period of mental health treatment at the US Naval Hospital in Shoemaker, Ca., near Oakland. We didn’t know much about post trauma stress at the time. PTSD was called “battle fatique” during WWII.

The truama of war was not understood nor discussed in any great detail back then. We also didn’t know of the life long consequences of experiencing severe trauma in combat as we learned decades later following the Vietnam War.

On this Memorial Day I honor and remember my mother’s service to America and all the military mom’s and spouses who served too! It is my belief that without the enduring love and faith of families everywhere, especially spouses and mothers, America would not be free today.



About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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