On Veterans Day, I remembered and was grateful for the WWII service of my late father, Ray Roberts; my late father-in-law, Ed Hirl; and my dad’s best friend in the military, my namesake, Capt. Philip N. Ingraham of Massachusetts, killed in action July 4, 1944.
I also remembered a favorite first cousin, Gerald Albert Wehde (Dec. 24, 1943- July 29, 1967), a farm boy from Old Monroe, Mo. Tink (his nickname) held the rank of AME3 in the U.S. Navy and was on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal when a fire broke out.
An electrical anomaly had caused the discharge of a Zuni rocket on the flight deck, triggering a chain-reaction of explosions that killed 134 sailors and injured 161. Jerry reportedly was the lead man on a firehose and was killed by shrapnel from an explosion.
At the time, the Forrestal was in the Gulf of Tonkin, a body of water located off the coast of northern Vietnam and southern China. It is a northern arm of the South China Sea.
My parents, brother and I attended his funeral. Later, when I was married and had a family of my own, we were on vacation in Washington, D.C. and found and etched his name on the Vietnam Veterans Wall.
Thank you to all who have served.