Veterans Day Remembrance… USS Bellegrove LSD2 1943-45 Pacific War

by | Nov 7, 2022

USS Bellegrove LSD2
August 1943 to June 1945
Pacific War

https://www.navsource.org/archives/10/12/1202.htm

During World War II USS Belle Grove was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and participated in the following campaigns:


World War II Campaigns
Campaign and DatesCampaign and Dates
Gilbert Islands operation
Makin Island, 20 November to 2 December 1943
Leyte operation
Leyte Gulf landings, 20 October, 31 October to 9 November and 13 to 21 November 1944
Marshall Islands operation
Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro Atolls, 31 January to 8 February 1944
Luzon operation
Lingayen Gulf landings – Abuyo and San Pedro Bay, 9 to 16 January 1945
Marianas operation
Capture and occupation of Saipan, 15 to 28 July 1944
Iwo Jima operation
Assault and capture of Iwo Jima, 19 February to 16 March 1945
Tinian capture and occupation, 21 to 28 July 1944 
https://steves80.sg-host.com/wordpress/2020/11/celebrating-democracy-with-steve-sparks-vernons-home-coming-christmas-1942-a-love-story/

The Pacific War Begins

“This would be an all too brief visit for every Sailor preparing for the Pacific War. It was this way back then. America was at war. Vernon also knew there was a 50/50 chance he would return home alive. But he didn’t talk about that either.” Quote from Veterans Day 2020 Remembrance…

I can only imagine how it might have been back then for Dad as he left my Mom and young Son, Jerry, in August 1943. I do know as a kid listening to some of his painful stories and in doing extensive research over the years, how to tell his stories in some fashion from listening to my heart and soul…

“Steve- My name is Charlie Minter. I served under Sparks on deck of the Belle Grove. I went
aboard on Oct 43 was assigned to the 3rd. division aft. The first chewing out I ever got was from Bosn Sparks. He had the longest arm of any one I ever saw. You didn’t fool with him. He was fair as anyone this little 17 year old ever knew. . He could get loud too. I thought a lot of him on the ship. He was good to me as he got me a pie job on the ship. But with the understanding I would keep his uniforms pressed at all time which I did. Hope this helps.” Charles R Minter P.O. Box 585 Daleville, Va.

In this moment, as I reflect on Veterans Day, I think of those who have served and serve now or in the future. Even more sacred, in my soul, are all the military families who served too…

I see and hear Dad too. He served America with pride, honor and duty. Men like Vernon H Sparks, were a unique generation of warriors, who fought hard, and helped save America when we needed them the most…

Growing up as a “War Baby”

I’m like Dad in lots of ways. Yeah, we look alike too. I served in the US Navy, aboard ship for awhile and was injured, but was fortunate to not serve in combat and truly hard ugly combat like he did…

I grew up under his shipboard command after he returned from WWII in June 1945. I was born in July 1946. I knew from my earliest memories that our home was often a rough and tough place to be, especially when he came home from sea duty, or someplace else…

I also know what it feels like to have serious mental health challenges like PTSD, and the whole litany of bad shit connected with this lifelong sickness. Kids growing up as ‘war babies’ wind up with ‘hard combat’ duty at home and around the kitchen table…

Children and families develop serious trauma symptoms, as a secondary affliction from living with parents who suffer from traumatic lives, like my parents. Believe me when I say, “no child should have to grow up living in a dangerous, and less than loving home life…”

Living with PTSD and major depression all my life, as I now know has been horrific. Most folks who suffer, like me, keep it bottled up for a lifetime. Some of us survive with visible scars of angry behaviors at times, substance abuse, divorces, broken families, and 24/7 fight flight responses to everything imaginable or unimaginable…

Some complete suicide. Others die early from ill health caused by being unable to cope or heal from severe trauma, including brain injuries.

I’m still here at age 75! Imagine that! I give credit to my wife, family and dear friends who have stuck by me all these years in my worst moments of despair…

It really takes a “village” to heal and recover. It has taken me almost 40 years with lots of kindness, empathy and love. I can’t even imagine how hard this has been on my family, especially my loving wife and partner…

I do know now, though, how my behaviors have affected loved ones who were also sickened over time being with me during the worst of my unpredictable behaviors…

Knowing this now as I recover and heal in these later years, helps me with perspective, and in ways that put my self serving behaviors aside. It helps me set boundaries with others, I hope. I work hard at that too…

I’ve finally set myself mostly free of the 100s of demons that are ever present in the deepest recesses of my mind. It’s bringing back these repressed memories with ‘trauma informed’ psychotherapy and processing them over time…

Doing this hard and often painful work, has made life so much more peaceful in these later years. We all deserve love and happiness in our lives, no matter how old or young…

I know my Dad much better now. I can’t forgot the profoundly dysfunctional life as a kid back then, and in my life as an adult. I can forgive, I can love now. I am loved too…

I now honer and remember veterans of all wars on this Veterans Day 2022. I especially remember, with tears in my heart and soul, the countless military families who served too…

Steve and Judy Sparks
Children and Families in Life After Trauma

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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