June 12, 2012 - A face in the kitchen window frightened and then
puzzled me. After a few seconds, I recognized whose face it was. It
was my father Chief Carpenter (CWO) Charles E Bellais. He was in his
naval aviator uniform—green in those days—and his hat with the naval
officer emblem gleamed in the evening light. He was home from the
war. This was August 22, 1945.
CWO Charles Bellais, Maj. William Bellais, Lt. John Bellais ...
three generations of veterans
We did not expect he would be home within a week after the war
ended but there he was staring through the kitchen window. Running
into the living room and shouting, “Daddy's in the back yard,”
everyone thought I was hallucinating. I was so excited I forgot to
go to the door and let him in resulting in a strong bang on the back
Our dad was home and we anticipated peace.
earlier, on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the Japanese
bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. There was a somber
mood in our Navy Housing area that day. We knew our navy father was
going to war. A few months later, my mother would put a blue service
star in our front window.
Nearly seventy years later I put a service star banner
out in front of my home. The star, for my son as he served
in Afghanistan, represented three generations of men
(grandfather, father, and son) who have gone off to serve in
a foreign war.
In addition, my father served in the
World War I era. He joined the Army in 1918 as a medical
corpsman when he was 17 years old. The Philippines, instead
of France, became his first assignment. Nevertheless, he did
not avoid the turmoil of the time. His regiment served at
Vladivostok, Russia, to guard the Trans-Siberian Railroad
against the Bolshevik's Red Army and the Japanese who
occupied neighboring Manchuria. The brutal conditions of
Eastern Siberia convinced him that his soldiering days were
over. On his return to the U.S. and after discharge from the
Army, he decided he wanted to be a sailor; he joined the
In 1953, I decided I wanted some adventure after high
school and I joined the Marine Corps. I too went to Asia to
serve in the Fleet Marine Force. This was the era of the
Later I decided to work toward an Army
commission while in college and earned my gold bars in 11200.
By 1968, I was on my way to Vietnam for my first year there
leaving behind my four-month-old son, his six-year-old
sister, and their mother. Two years after my return, I
repeated the sad good-byes and returned to Vietnam.
My son, LCDR John C. Bellais, USNR, is now the third
generation of my family to go off to war in the past ninety
years. He served with the Navy in Afghanistan as a
Lieutenant in 2010 and 2011.
The star on the flag
that flew out in front of my home represented a man who was
four months old when I departed or Vietnam in June 1968.
Like his father and grandfather, my son left his home to
answer the call of country and to fulfill duties as a naval
officer, leaving behind an infant son and his mother.
By William Bellais
Department of Veterans Affairs - Vantage Point
About Author: William Bellais served in the U.S. Marine Corps
during the Korean War. He went on to become commissioned in the U.S.
Army and serve his country again in Vietnam.
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