Each Veterans Day I immediately think about my Dad, Chief Pharmacists Mate, Martin Kraft, United States Navy. Like most young men of his age, upon attack by Japan, my Dad rushed to sign up to serve his country. He put his Dartmouth education on hold, hung up his track star shoes, and enlisted in the Navy. His Naval service career began in World War II with active duty aboard the Kitty Hawk (not the Aircraft Carrier), but a commercial ship converted to military use for the War effort. As a Chief Pharmacist Mate, my Dad would retell the story of how he went from being a pecker checker to a surgeon in just weeks aboard ship at sea. He didn't often discuss what it was like at sea in the Pacific in battle. He rather chose to tell me about how he crossed the Prime Meridian and Equator simultaneously joining a rare Naval club and society called the Royal Dragons.
Dad also served our country in the US Naval Reserves during the Korean War and the Vietnam War. When I was just a kid, my Dad dressed in full uniform whites, took me along for his 2 weeks doing rounds at St. Albans Naval Hospital in NYC. I held his hand visiting sailors throughout the day and I began to realize the nature of what my Dad's wartime experience must have been like.
I can not think of anyone who more exemplified honor, bravery, dedication, devotion and sacrifice for his country than my own Dad. I remember a Veteran's Day parade in Brooklyn, NY and my Dad in full dress uniform as he marched in step in front of Admirals and politicians, my Mom and I. I recently visited Pearl Harbor with my family in honor of Dad who was in and out of Pearl. We walked up to a sailor as we booked our tour and we started to chat. Of course I mentioned Chief Pharmacist Mate, Martin Kraft, and his wartime duty, and much to my surprise he went into a hard covered book, found his ship, made me a copy of his ships ports and wartime action, and I stood there in the shadows of the ships moored in Pearl, saluted and took our sentimental tour in the footsteps of Dad.
My family and I were so proud of Dad and of being Americans. Today I honor my father, Chief Pharmacists Mate, Martin Kraft, and every veteran that helped defend our country. Thank you all.
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