Sunday, April 8, 2007

In Honor of Captain David P. Gibson: Updated

Forty years ago today my dad was killed in Vietnam (47 years in 2014).  My mom was pregnant with me when he was killed, so I never had the joy of having my dad around.  This day has always been hard on me, even more so now that I am a parent.

I struggled most with my 28th year. That was the age he was when he was killed.  It was almost as if I was afraid to outlive my dad.  I understand much more, as the years have passed, especially with the current war going on.

We must support our troops, and their families, it is because of their sacrifices that we have all the freedoms we have.  I believe I am allowed to voice my opinion having lost something that no daughter should lose, her daddy.

I spent several weeks when I was 29 in my dad's childhood home to get to know him.  It was quite a profound visit.  After 29 years, classmates of my dad wept openly when they spoke of him.  I was so surprised when I went to the house he grew up in, when the owners took me in and gave me a tour.  I went during the summer, but the high school principal, who went to school with my dad took me to the library and found all the yearbooks that my dad was in and helped me photocopy the pages he was on.

It was a wonderful opportunity to learn about a man I never knew.  My mom struggled when she would speak of dad, because she would say it was too hard.  I didn't understand what she meant until I married.  I cannot imagine life without my Bill.  I would not be able to speak of him, it would hurt too much.

So to all the readers of today's post I want to share with you my dad and a few things that he missed. Dad never saw one of his kids lose a baby tooth, he never made it to any of our graduations, nor walked his three daughters down the aisle.  He didn't have an seventh wedding anniversary with my mom. He missed out on all our marriages, 15 grandchildren, and almost three great grandchildren*(updated below).

What he accomplished: he had the strongest wife a man could ever have.  She raised us with such clarity, never angry at his military service.  She instilled her children to be very proud, honorable citizens of this great land.  My dad gave his children the American dream, through his sacrifice.  I ask all my readers on this day to please give me a comment of optimism on this ever so hard day.

The legacy of David and DeSales: parents of Cathy, David II, Liz, John, Peter, Jennifer
grandparents of David III-1980, Ann-1983, Tony-1985, Danielle-1986, Katie-1987, Cameron-1988, Bill-1989, Ashley-1990, Peter-1990, Ruben-1992, Parker-1992, Trey-1993, Carson-1994, Caliana-1995, and Mari-2006

great-grandparents of Lily-2003, Parker-2005, and his namesake due this month David Parker Gibson IV, ****since 2007 additional great grandchildren of David and Dee~Sam Gibson, Eva Gibson, Kayd Creighton, Kam Creighton, Zoey Bracken,

I thank God that I am the daughter of such noble parents, and I ask all Americans to recognize that war is hell and the soldier is not the only causality of war. I also ask Americans to support our troops. 


1 CAV DIVPurple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam CampaignCombat Infantry

ON THE WALL       Panel 17E Line 121
Update: Mom died on February 19, 2011, she was 72.  She outlived dad by 44 years. 
Frances Desales
April 14, 1938- February 19, 2011

Dad and Mom's wedding day Killeen, Texas.
August 27, 1960 

Mom holding me
Peter 2, John 3, David, Liz twins 4, Cathy 5.

Dad's name on the wall.
A reader sent me this photo after she read this post.

I love this photo of dad and mom. 
I never saw this until after mom's death.
She had a very hard time speaking of dad and looking
at this photo, I can see why. She loved him ever so much
and her heart broke when he was killed.

The flag that draped my dad's casket. 
Mom had this in her home when she died.
David Parker Gibson III has it in his home now.

 My oldest son.
He served in the army for 4 years with one tour
in Afghanistan.  He is now a deputy sheriff.


Rita Loca said...

I no it is only words, but I am thankful for your Dad's service to our country. He is a hero. I am so sorry you never got to meet him! You also paid a part in his sacrifice and you live the continual rewards of the freedom he fought for. Lets pray for our military everyday but also for our politicians !

Harry said...

Thank you for this post. I hope you don't mind if I link to it. This is a story that everyone should read. People need to know the sacrifice that freedom demands from all of us if we are to keep it.

Mike H. said...

An apt memorial Jenn. Memorials should be presented as lessons for future conduct and yours was. Your father would be proud because he had the same outlook on life as you do. Some of the people in the sixties hated what we were doing but a lot of us knew why we were there. Your father was one. Officers weren't drafted. I volunteered and so did he. Rather than tearing down a society we tried to build one up and that is only part of his legacy. Eventually it will be part of mine too. I guess I'm in good company.

Mike H. said...

Correction: I was an enlisted volunteer.

American Libertarian said...

Thank You for such a beautiful message.

Your Mother did a fantastic job!

I salute your Father.

Unknown said...

So many thoughts are going through my mind right now. What a handsome man he was! I am so impressed with you true patriotism and respect for our military. I'm especially moved with this being the eve of my dad's 2nd open heart surgery. My emotions seem to be a little raw. But he has had a full life during his almost 71 years and I have had him for 47 years. What a blessing! I wish to do the same a Harry and link to this. Would that be ok? God bless you sweet Jen!

Reliapundit said...

God Bless You and Your Family, and Your Father.

I thank him and all the men and women of the armed forces of the United States of America for their unselfish service.

Because of their sacrifices - and the sacrifices of their families - OF DAUGHTERS LIKE YOU! - I am free,
and America has been the indispensable beacon of Hope to all people everywhere yearning to be free.

Because of people like your dad.

God Bless America!

af said...

Dear Jen - thank you for sharing your Father with us. I am approaching the same age my own Father died - a veteran of WWII and the communist insurgency in Malaya in the 50's where he fought for the British and defeated the enemy.

Your father fought a noble war against communism. Some day this country and this world will realize how right and true your father an his fallen comrades were.

Thank you for publicizing your Father's life. He should be revered for his sacrifice.

God Bless you and your family.

An American by choice.

Yekwana Man said...

My great-grandfather served in Europe in WWI, my grandfather in the pacific in WWII, my father served in between Korea and Vietnam. I served from 1980-1984. I have never felt your loss and I honor you as the child of a hero. God Bless you.

Beach Girl said...

I am sort of in the same boat. I had just turned 8 in 1966 when my father, a USAF fighter pilot and member of the Thunderbirds, was taking off for Viet Nam and was killed in a horrible crash. I really never knew him, as he was always away. Like your mother, mine raised me and my little brother with values, morals, and an appreciation for the military and the freedoms that they have fought for.

I can relate to your post more than I can articulate in this comment. Thank you for sharing it.


allen said...

Your father, my uncle "The Colonel", and I served during the same year. The country lost much that year. But in you, the United States won a great, passionate advocate.

May you be blessed.
May you be well.

Semper Fi, Captain!

Unknown said...

When you climb
into your bed tonight
When you lock the door
don't think of those
out in the cold and dark
'cause there's not enough love to go round

Half the world
hates the other half
Half the world
has all the goods
And half the world
has any empathy
'cause there was not enough love to go round

Caraqueña said...

That was wonderful~three cheers for your mom, who was able to continue on, in spite of great loss, to instill in her kids the values that their father, no doubt, would have instilled in them! God bless...

herself said...

Hello Jen, Thank you for this thoughtful post. You might like to read since Gagdad Bob wrote about transformative pain a few days ago. I think you will find his comments interesting.

Well done homeschooling your children. I was able to do it for a while and it was a wonderful experience for all of us. Like your mom, I was widowed with small children and fortunately my boys are turning out to be remarkable young men. I know what level of work it requires and I tip my hat to her.

Karridine said...

Captain Gibson, thank you for your service. You didn't intend to die there, but I thank you also for THAT sacrifice.

You have always been watching, but still know that, in your absence, the faith you placed in your wife's capacity- that which attracted you to her in the first place- was well deserved, and she raised Americans who honor and revere your efforts in defense of the American ideals.

My four years were at the same time, just a different face on the same enemy... freezing on the Korean DMZ from 64 to 68, Sir.

Rest in peace, knowing that a new generation of Americans are slowly, fitfully gathering their courage to face an irrational and implacable and devious enemy... and we shall win, Sir!

Memories for a Lifetime said...

It has been a great reminder with your post of how your pain and your mother's transformed a family for generations to come of just what sacrifice families choose to suffer for freedom.

I, too, know many young men and women serving in our armed forces today who volunteered proudly to stand for our young man is now 23 with a 19 year old wife and two small children at home who is now doing is second tour in Iraq, and has been in Afghanistan....away most of his married life---fighting our war on terrorism!!

What a great legacy for your children and grandchildren to learn tolove our country, its flag, and our freedoms, all because they suffered loss!

I too find it an honor to homeschool and to teach my children the moral, values and character to stand tall and be proud to be an AMERICAN. And, along with their freedoms, sacrifices and wars must and will be fought!!

Da Man said...

Captain Gibson sacrificed his life so that people behind the Iron Curtain might have the same freedom that we do in the US. That's the real story behind the Vietnam War.

Pen of Jen said...

To everyone who commented about my dad, thank you. I really appreciate the kind words.

For those of you who linked to this post I am very grateful. It is very emotional to think that someone else read this and felt moved. For so many years I, with my siblings have quietly carried our grief/ pride for our dad.

I am so thankful that his sacrifice was able to touch so many.

Remember all of our actions impact generations to come, so be firm in who you are. Thanks again

Herman Richard Matern said...

Thank you, Jen, for your reflections today. Our family's hearts are with you and honor you. I brought my family to Vietnam as a doctor and worked with the people there for about 6 years. I won't belabor you with it all now, but it was a most wonderful time doing things thru surgery and medicine (new operations never described before for newborns with imperforate anuses, my daughter lost for a day after a practical joker had placed a live grenade in the pineapples at market in Hue and blew up two dear nuns who were teachers from her school, taking care of VC kids and seeing them GROW UP when I posed the question to them, "What is more important in life: caring for wounded Vietnamese youngsters or killing American doctors?" after my life was threatened). I closed the door as the last person off the Embassy roof in Saigon, cried like a baby when I saw the havoc being wreaked around the town - fires, mayhem, shootings. Then landing on the aircraft carrier Midway and going straight down to sick bay and pitching in to help with the 20 plus little kids with diarrhea who had come aboard that day.
I assure you, Jen, that your dad was loved by many an interpreter, or driver or cook or other VN man-of-the-street. He touched many lives there one way or another and he was instrumental in bringing about the consuming desire for peace which has characterized that nation since we left. Yes I lost many friends drowned at sea with the boat people, but never have been told of a single revenge killing or manic berserk activity after we left 22 years ago next week. Your father as the "stereotypical" American there was one of the marvels that the people remember for a firm confidence in the ultimate triumph of the Good, for his quiet acceptance of decency and honor - that he didn't even think mattered because of the way he and his countrymen lived while we were there. And in the long run it has counted immeasureably. You will never hear of vengefulness, hatred, bitterness between our two nations; it has not happened. I removed incurable (but incapacitating) tumors from VN kids, while our troops went back and took care of their families - even got up "college funds" for them. Asia has never seen upclose the behavior of the American soldier but what they did not respond with great respect and admiration. I think you have the right to know and believe this. I was the recipient of those sentiments constantly -produced by men like my brother, who died there while I was there with him, and your Dad. I have a picture of my brother holding up 10 laughing VN kids positioned on both his arms spread out, all laughing their heads off. You, Jen, have a right to very, very much of the pride, the esprit, the joie-de-vivre, the great goodness of heart that we as Americans brought over with us for them. Take pride in that, for I am certain your father, who did so much to promote such a loving, caring American family as yours, will be front and center when the great rewards for such blessed work are finally given out, the rewards they so richly deserve. God be with you, Dick Matern, MD, FACS, USPHS Inactive Reserve.

Herman Richard Matern said...

Hey, Jen, it was 32 years ago! And what I said will be as true in 42 or 142 years. Cam 'on, ba! You keep it up and don't let us ever forget the sacrifices you and your Dad made; they are the strength and beauty of our great nation. HRM

Portrait of Peter said...

Such a Wonderful Tribute in Honour of your Dear Father Captain David P Gibson.

My prayers have always been for those within the Military as they "Serve to Protect" our nations and we owe them so very much, their sacrifice for our freedom.

Such a moving tribute that we should all reflect on in this uncertain world.

Your dear Mum sounds a remarkable lady and she like your father - proud parents - may you treasure the memories of others who knew your father and of the wonderful photo's you can treasure always.

Words are not enough - but they do come from the heart.

Blessings to you and your family.


Susan said...

Thanks Jen for answering my question and directing my attention to this blog that I missed during Easter. If you are an indication your mother did a most remarkable job. :o)

Pen of Jen said...

Thank you Peter for your words, believe it or not the words from those all over the world have been very therapuetic.

Penless, I can only aspire to be as strong as my mother, but thanks so much for your words.

Bob's Blog said...

Thanks for sending us to this post. It is so appropriate to be read this weekend. I agree with what you said about your mother's strength and honor and what others have said about all of us enjoying America's bounty because of the sacrifices of men like your father.

Mary@notbefore7 said...

I am late reading this, but thank you for sending it. This touch my heart tonight. I can't wait to go honor him and visit him at the memorial. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on such a hard occasion!

Anonymous said...

hey this is carson and yes what a role model he is dad always use to tell the storys i hope i am as great as a man he was strong hey was without a doubt grammys knight in shining armor it is just to bad we all missed out on some great times...

Steve said...

Hello Jen -

Did your brother Peter get commissioned via OCS at Ft. Benning in early 1988?

If so, I was the one who commissioned him. I know that his father was killed as an Infantry Captain in Vietnam.

In any case, I honor your father, and his family, for your sacrifices.

Pen of Jen said...


Yes, you did indeed commission my brother Pete! Neat to have you stop by and thank you!