Saturday, February 23, 2013

Grandpa's Military Mementos

My Dad mentioned to me once that he had an old war photo of his father, my Grandpa Carlos Gallegos, imprinted on cloth. I had no idea what he was talking about. But of course I was intrigued. I have been desperate to find anything from my Grandpa’s military service in World War II.

I wasn’t disappointed. But I am intrigued. It is apparently a memento from his military service. But it’s a mystery. A black-and-white portrait of my Grandpa Carlos was screen-printed onto a burgundy cloth with gold fringe, a gold eagle and bell, and red-white-and blue American flags.

I’m not sure if it was produced before, during or after his service in World War II. I’ve scoured the Internet to find other banners like this one. I found one, but it was just as much of a mystery as my grandfather’s banner.

What I do know is this: My Dad said his father displayed the banner in his home, along with a photo of my Great-Uncle Eloy Gallegos, who died in the war. And my Grandma gave the banner to my Dad after my Grandpa died in 1980. The banner has my Grandpa’s Lieutenant bars attached to it, as well as a his ribbon bar pin and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers pin.

Along with the banner, my Dad also has my Grandpa’s olive-green Army hat with his Lieutenant bar attached to it.

My Dad has a vivid memory of his father wearing his Army hat at home each morning at 6:30 a.m. while he ate the eggs and toast that my Grandma made him, and he read the Las Vegas Optic. He wore that hat, my Dad said, to shape his hair just the way he liked it. I asked my Grandma Rise about the hat, and she confirmed that my Grandpa wore it every morning.

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