Hardy Carl, USN 1961-1967
Listen to Hardy’s story or read it below.
My name is Hardy Carl, I’m from Mount Vernon, Missouri. Well, my service determined the rest of my life because I went into the Navy then into flight training and when I got out I went into the airlines. So that was 40 years of my life, started in the Navy. Before that I had a Navy scholarship so that enabled me to go 4 years to school and get a degree without my parents having to pay a lot of money. My service really changed everything and I met my wife while I was in the Navy, wouldn’t have met her and that was a good deal, so far, 50 years.
I think most veterans respect the star spangled banner. I did that in high school football games. They played that and I felt very patriotic. Get ready to go out and win the game but when you’re in the service its almost the same thing but now somebody’s shooting at you and so theres a difference but we were all very patriotic and we were sent to do a job and everyone did it, nobody griped about it. Things happened and we believed everything the government told us usually back then.
But you get a lot of wisdom just by doing that and looking back everyone says well I wish I’d done that. But, I’m glad I did it but I don’t want to do it again. I lost quite a few friends in Vietnam. That was a big thing the rest of my life, thinking about those guys. But, its part of growing up.
When I started with the airlines we had a lot of pow’s still in Vietnam and I’d be talking with the rest of the crew and they didn’t realize that, “oh we have people in captivity?” It’s hard to bring that out to the public that don’t keep up with it. But my last parent of a friend that got killed, she just died. She kept the same address the rest of her life even though she moved several times because she thought her boy might be coming back sometime and want to find her. That was really sad. Amazing woman. But on the other hand her son was only 27 when he was shot down and killed so he never had a chance to get married, have kids or anything else. He was a brilliant guy but that was the end of that family really.
They’re certain times in the military you can go in and spend your whole career and never have combat or anything else and that’s a super deal. But, like my daughters generation, sons generation had over 20 years but they had combat in between they had to do.
The thing about the medals, we had a medals officer who was a friend of mine and he was supposed to coordinate all the medal awards and the skippers room was next to mine, I could hear through the wall. They were talking back and forth. Skipper says I want everybody that has an air medal to go back and rewrite it for a DFC, distinguished flying cross and the guy says ok. So they brought that up and most of us said “ah, the hell with it, no big deal, stinkin’ medal.” Everyone should get a medal of honor just for risking their tail.
But that was a good period of my life, shaped my whole life. My dad went in during WWII. Shaped his life too. He finally made more money there than he did teaching school and they got to travel around some. That was the high point of their life too. But the bad part you know, someone gets killed or injured. That’s the bad part of their life. I was very lucky that way. Now they have the volunteer force which is much better than the draft.
All images ©Steve Snyder, Images of the Ozarks.