Tag Archives: U.S. Marine Corps

Get back into the game, Jerry Patterson

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The Texas Railroad Commission is a misnamed panel that does important work for the state.

It no longer regulates railroads. It does regulate the Texas energy industry.

So it is with some anticipation that I read today that Railroad Commissioner David Porter won’t seek re-election next year to the three-member panel.

Patterson may run for RRC.

His decision is spurring some activity among Texas Republicans. One of them happens to be someone I happen to respect and admire very much.

He is Jerry “The Gun Guy” Patterson, the former Texas land commissioner and a one-time state senator from the Houston area.

Patterson is a proud Marine and Vietnam War veteran. He also has delightful self-deprecating sense of humor; he once told me he graduated in the “top 75 percent of my class at Texas A&M.”

Patterson also was the author during the 1995 Texas Legislature of the state’s concealed-handgun-carry law. I opposed the law at the time, but my view on it has “evolved” over time. I am not an active supporter of the concealed-carry law; I just don’t oppose it.

Patterson did a great job running the General Land Office. He helped he GLO provide low-interest home loans for Texas military veterans.

I cannot speak to any expertise he might have on oil and gas issues. I do, though, respect him greatly as a dedicated public servant — and I hope he decides to get back in the game.

 

Dear Dad: You made me proud

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I’ve written before about my favorite veteran.

He was my late father, Peter John Kanelis, a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy who survived the horrifying crucible of World War II.

I wrote the first time aboutĀ his serviceĀ two years ago.

Dad saw the bulk of his combat in the Mediterranean Sea, engaging in the invasions of North Africa, Sicily and Italy. He endured relentless bombing and strafing by the Luftwaffe, had the ship on which he served sunk by an Italian dive bomber, and was credited with shooting down a Juncker JU-88 German bomber while manning a .50-caliber deck gun during the Sicilian campaign.

He told me of a timeĀ he was standing guard while on shore patrolĀ inĀ Tunisia and he shot to death someone who had breached his unit’s perimeter. Was it an enemy soldier? No, Dad said. It was a local guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Dad was like almost all World War II vets in this regard: He didn’t volunteer much about his experiences during that war. Oh, he’d talk about it if someone asked. And yes, I asked him about those days. We talked often while I was growing up.

I learned about how he joined the Navy just a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, how he went through an abbreviated boot camp in San Diego as the U.S. War Department sought to get mobilized in a hurry and how he learned his seamanship skills aboard ship while steaming to Great Britain.

Mom would tell me that Dad suffered for a time upon his return from the war from a form of shell shock — which they now call “post-traumatic stress disorder.”

It would manifest itself, Mom said, when Dad would hear the sound of an airplane. He’d flinch and look up, she said. All that constant bombardment made Dad quite jumpy when he heard the sound of aircraft overhead.

He got past that period of his life.

He intended to be join the Marine Corps the day he enlisted. As luck would have it, the USMC office was closed that day; he walked across the hall and joined the Navy. I believe he would have made as good a Marine as he was a sailor.

But to be honest, I’mĀ grateful DadĀ was spared theĀ task of potentially having to storm ashore amid a hail of enemy bullets.

His Navy duty was rough enough.

Dad’s been gone for 35 years. This much hasn’t dimmed one single bit as the nation prepares to commemorate Veterans Day: I’m as proud ofĀ my father’sĀ service to his country now as I was when I first learned about it.

Tribute to my favorite veteran

On this Veterans Day, I thought I’d pay tribute to someone who served his country with honor during its darkest moment.

I got the idea from a local radio station which on Monday is going to field phone calls from listeners talking about their “favorite veteran.” I’ll forgo that call and just write it here.

His name was Peter John Kanelis. He was my father. Dad was a proud World War II veteran.

He told me the story about how he found his way into the U.S. Navy.

Dad was anxious to get into the fight shortly after the Japanese navy and air force attacked our military installations at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That attack occurred on Dec. 7, 1941. Dad was enrolled at the University of Portland in Oregon, where he lived with my grandparents and his six siblings — two brothers and four sisters.

It was in February 1942 that he decided to enlist. He went downtown — to the Marine Corps office. The door was locked. He walked across the hall and enlisted in the Navy on the spot.

As I recall the way Dad told the story, he didn’t have to wait long before shipping out. He went to San Diego, Calif., for three weeks of basic training. The Navy then put him on a ship and he steamed for England. He would learn seamanship skills along the way.

Dad ended up serving in three combat campaigns in the Mediterranean theater: North Africa, Sicily and the Italian mainland. He fought hard. An Italian dive bomber blew up Dad’s ship during the battle for Sicily. He was picked up fairly quickly by a British ship.

It was during the Italian mainland invasion that Dad endured 105 consecutive days of aerial bombardment from the German Luftwaffe. He told me he lost a considerable amount of weight during that time, eating mainly fruit.

Dad continued his service for the next several weeks as the Allies fought to secure Italy. Then he came back to the United States for a time. He enrolled in an officer training program at Dartmouth College, but didn’t make the cut.

He then was shipped to the Philippines, where he was staging for a likely invasion of Japan.

President Harry Truman then ordered the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The war ended. Dad came home, married my mother and I came along three years later. My sisters would round out our family eventually.

Dad died much too early in his life. He was just 59 when he perished 33 years ago in a boating accident. Mom fell victim to Alzheimer’s disease; she was just 61 when she died four years later.

Dad’s service during World War II was not uniquely heroic. He merely did what millions of other Americans did. He answered the call to service when his country needed him. Those of us who came along owe everything to the 16 million young men and women who served during that horrible time.

My father was one of them. That’s why he is my favorite veteran.