By Frank Munzer
It was the Sunday Before Memorial day 2014 when I decided I would like to see the Aircraft Carrier Intrepid which is part of the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum complex next to a pier on the Hudson River and now where they have the Concorde, the commercial jet that flew at an altitude of 60,000 feet nearly double the altitude that commercial jets now fly. I thought that now that I live in New York City again I would see these most important ship and air craft.
So I went to the internet and in a half hour had punched a ticket for a tour starting at 9:00AM the next morning.
As I prepared to get a good night’s sleep I thought it would be a good day to wear my American Legion Veterans Hat on which I have two medals that I was awarded for my service in Korea, one from the Korean Government which displayed the South Korean Flag. The other medal was awarded by our government on which I have two battle stars that my group the 116 Engineers Combat Group had been awarded for its service in Korea.
I found the hat and all was in shape and was ready to be taken with me in the morning. Knowing that, I went to sleep and woke at 6:00 AM the next morning. I had breakfast, washed and shaved and was off to catch the A -train to 42nd street station and then walked to 46th street and the Hudson River Park and parkway where the Intrepid Sea Air and Space Museum is located.
I was out of my apartment at 8:00 and was walking just 15 feet from my front door when a lady passed me and said “Thank you for serving”. Yes, I was wearing my American Legion Veterans hat but was so surprised to be greeted at my own front door. I thanked her and wished her a happy Memorial Day and continued on my way to Broadway to the elevated 125th street station when a man also said “Thank you for your service”. I smiled and thanked him. I was thinking I am not even near the Intrepid yet and all these people have thanked me already for serving in the army. I was surprised. In no time I arrived at the 42 street station and started walking to the Hudson River when a soldier in uniform came up to me, looked into my eye and said, “Thank you for your service” and he put out his hand and we shook hands and he was on his way as I said “thank you for your service to our country.” As I walked on two other people recognized that I was a veteran and thanked me for serving.
I had now reached the gate and I checked through security and received my security clearance bracelet and proceeded to receive my hanging badge for a tour of the carrier. The first place I wanted to walk on was the flight deck and it was fabulous as it was loaded with many fighter aircraft. I then walked down a flight of stairs to see where there was activity going on and it was clear what they do when they are getting ready to put aircraft in the air. Then I went to see where they eat and then where they sleep. It was a very informational tour. A good tour of a fighter carrier.
I was a little late for my tour of the Concorde and was a little mixed up with another tour so I found a seat and had a cup of coffee and a little bagel and watched a few police boats speed around the waters in front of the Intrepid docking. It was a nice sunny day and I was enjoying it and taking in all the activities. Then I had a few minutes to think I said to myself, Frank, you have flown on the Concord on a return trip from a week long business meeting in Cairo, Egypt in 1978. So I was not disappointed I missed out on the tour of the Concord and spent a few more minutes relaxing before I walked out through security and headed to 42nd street. I walked along the Hudson park/parkway on my way to the 42nd and 8th avenue subway station and home. Even there I was enjoying the sites of the activities on the piers and sat down to take in the sites. I was not down long when a young school girl came up to me and asked if I was still in the service. I explained I had been and am no longer and that is why they call me a veteran. Then she said, “if you are a veteran would you sign my book”. As I signed her book I saw that many others had signed before me. Then she handed me a homemade 3” x 3” card that had a sketch of an angle on the front and inside a hand printed, Thank You For Your Service!! and her name and address. She said to me “thank you” and ran off to catch up with her parents. I was happy and thought about what she had just done.
I crossed the Riverside Parkway and continued to 8th avenue receiving one more “Thank you for your service” from a young man.
Now I found myself in the 42 street subway station waiting for the A train to take me back to my 125th Street Station and home. There was a crowd on the platform and it was a little confusing with a crowd getting off and all new passengers looking to get in the car and get a seat. There were two college age young girls in front of me and they beat me to a seat. One of them looked up and saw I was older and not so steady on my feet and was a veteran. The one girl in the end seat politely got up and gave me her seat. She was very friendly and talkative and asked me where I had served. I told the two of them that I had served in Korea in 1951 to 1952. As they were getting ready to get off at their station I started talking to the other girl as she did not seem to be from New York and she to my surprise said, “I am from Korea and I have grown up in Seoul.” I said, “ I remember Seoul well as I went through it a couple of times, and when I did there were very few buildings standing and the only road was all plain earth.” Before I could say more she said, “and now the whole city looks like it does here in 42nd Street with all tall buildings.” And as she got up to get off at her station she said, ”Thank you for saving my country” and departed the train with her friend.
The day’s experiences made me very happy especially when it ended with the meeting of the very appreciative Korean girl who had lived in a city I saw blown apart by the North Koreans and now living in New York City and probably going to college in New York City. I am sure I will never forget her words, “Thank you for saving my country.”