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By Jesse Utz 

My Uncle, a veteran

Jess Shut Up

 


This morning I got the news, the kind of news that no one wants to get, whether it’s expected or not; my uncle had died.

Ninety-nine percent of you don’t know him; he did not live here, never did. He had visited a time or two, and I reminisce now on those times. But I don’t want to hash out memories for you about someone you did not know and had little impact if any at all in your life. He did impact mine and my family’s but what I want to write about today is that he did serve us all and you did not even have to know what he looked like.

You see, my Uncle Ed Banker was a veteran. He was retired Navy and he served his life protecting us all. I never really got a chance to tell him the effect he had on me personally. Mostly because when he was active, well, he was active. I know he was stationed in Pensacola, Fla. for a while, but that was before I met him.

The first time I met him I was about 7 or 8, and they traveled up to visit us in Electric City. I was intimidated, to say the least. He was a big man and he was very strict, in my eyes. As I got to know him a little better later in life, I realized he was more than an imposing figure. He was a fun loving man that cared more for family than anything else. He could be gruff, but there was a wisdom and teaching behind his bark. His love of my aunt and his kids I will never forget, and it’s the kind of love I try to measure up to in my own family.

He had a lot of obstacles to overcome, and I will admire the way he handled them, with love and protection. Some of my favorite memories as a kid came on Bremerton Base, where he and his family lived later on in his career. Digging clams, steaming them and eating them dipped in butter while we sat around the table and watched 9mm reels of Elvis movies. Going on adventures with my cousins Eddy and Johnny on the base and playing in the old bunkers was a new world for me.

But I loved the family atmosphere the most. No matter what was going on in his life, Uncle Ed was always the big heart, even with a stern hand. I have not had much interaction with him the last 15 years, and I regret it fully now. I never got a chance to thank him for being such a positive role model in my life and teaching me what a dad should look like. I never thanked him for serving and risking his life for our freedom.

I know his legacy will go on in his sons and grandchildren, with such a strong man for them to learn from and lean on over the years. I am not only proud to know him as man, servant, soldier and father, but as my uncle.

So in memory of my Uncle Ed … thanks to all of you that are positive role models in your community and family and a big THANK YOU to all veterans in all branches for my freedom, and God Bless the USA.

 

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