Thursday, November 11, 2004

My Favorite Veteran

Dr. Frank E. Funk, WWII vetthis is as patriotic as I getI can't let Veteran's Day to go by without mentioning my dad, Dr. Frank E Funk. Born 21 February 1923 in Jersey City, he's still alive and well, still active in church and community in Wilmington, NC.

I don't know that much about his service career (he doesn't talk about it much), but here's what I do know:

B-171. He was a navigator in the U.S. Army Air Force, before the Air Force was a separate branch of the service. He served on a B-17 Bomber. I should know what country he bombed and where he was shot down, but I don't remember. Austria? Italy? These are not events he remembers fondly.
2. He was a P.O.W. in Stalag Luft 1, where he cut other prisoners' hair. Because of his parents' German heritage, he spoke just enough German that he once managed to talk German captors out of killing a fellow prisoner, according to my mom. The camp was liberated by the Russians in May, 1945.barbed wire
George Simmons Stalag Luft 1 page
Stalag Luft 1 Online - Barracks listing

my parents in 19493. After liberation of the camp, Dad spent time in a V.A. hospital regaining his strength. Then he went to college at Syracuse University. He met my mom in the Corner Store, a University-area hangout where the Newhouse School of Public Communications now stands. They were married in 1949, divorced in 1976. Dad remarried shortly after that, and is still happily married to Ruth Christy Funk to this day.

I called him today for Veteran's Day. which amused and pleased him. He said that he'd never joined any veterans' organizations because "I'm not one of those people who think of their years in the service as the most important time in their lives." Looking at all my dad has accomplished since then, I have to agree in his case. Professionally, he was a speech professor, assistant dean and then dean of University College (and Director of Continuing Education) at Syracuse University. Since retiring he's been a reader on tapes for the blind, a volunteer and board member at a local NPR station, president of the local railroad museum and an elder and recording secretary at his church. He's still active at the railroad museum and at church, and is just as annoyed as I am about the election. "The voters in this country could have benefited from taking your critical thinking course before this election," he told me today. That's my dad!


Musings: The Aging Lottery
Dad and me circa 1957Dad and me in 1971


ryanagi said...

OMG! My Dad was a navigator in the USAF. He's a Vietnam vet and flew during the Cuban Missle Crisis. :-)

alphawoman1 said...

I adore these photo's!  My Dad was in the 101'st. He was pulled over from the Army...long story, and I too only have bits and parts of it.  Terrible time for those young men, but they were of a different generation.  Survivors of the depression.

ondinemonet said...


Want a poignant entry. I enjoyed viewing the photograpahs very much. Thank you for sharing your favorite veteran with your readers.

Always, Carly :)