Thomas Richardson Biggs was my grandfather. He was born in Arkansas in 1886 and he died in Tulsa in 1962.
During World War I, Grandpa was in the U.S. Navy and served in combat. I was only 8 years old when he died and I never got a chance to visit with him about his role in the “war to end all wars.” In his last few years, he was troubled with dementia and that further restricted our discussion.
Harley Upton Biggs, Sr., was my father. He was drafted into the U.S. Army during World War II and he served under Gen. George Patton in the European theater.
Growing up in the 1960s, I was fascinated about the history of World War II. Dad would talk about it sparingly. It was not his favorite topic.
He met and married my Mother during the war (both are now deceased). Dad want to play professional baseball and not go to war, which hampered his time in the military.
Dad was awarded the Purple Heart after he was wounded. I think that happened during the famous Battle of the Bulge, when Germany mounted one last giant offensive to save their homeland.
Dad was briefly captured in Germany but was rescued by fellow Americans before he could be taken to a prison camp.
George Campbell is my father-in-law. He was an Army Ranger and was stationed in Germany when Susan, my wife and his daughter was born. George was an airborne paratrooper but he never saw combat.
My mother was married before World War II but her first husband passed away but not before she had a son and daughter, who are in their 80s and live in Florida and California.
Ben Campbell (who is no relation to George) is my oldest brother. He served in the Army during the Korean War.
My Mom and Dad had five boys and I was the youngest. The oldest brother of that group is Bill, who served in the Oklahoma National Guard during the War in Vietnam.
Back then, the National Guard stayed home to protect the homeland, so Bill never went overseas.
My late brother Thomas enlisted in the U.S. Navy before he finished his senior year in high school. He got a medical discharge a few months after enlisting.
Brother Jon tried several times to enlist during War in Vietnam but a minor medical issue prevented him. My late brother Harley Biggs, Jr., was not drafted and never served.
They did away with the draft when I became eligible. I wanted to go to college so I didn’t enlist. My Dad told me that our family had served and he didn’t want me to go unless it was necessary.
After getting my degree, I considered enlisting in the Air Force and going to Officer Candidate School. But for one reason or another, I didn’t choose that path.
Brian Charles Biggs is my son. A few years ago, he told me that he wanted to enlist in the Oklahoma National Guard and go to Afghanistan. He asked me for my advice.
I was very conflicted. As his father, I didn’t want him to go. I didn’t want him in harm’s way.
I didn’t want to lose my son.
He thought it was God’s will for him to do this. I couldn’t argue with that. This was a chance for our family to once again trust God that He would protect our family in times of war.
We had some very emotional prayer times, lifting up Brian and his fellow Oklahoma Guardsmen. About 3,200 were scheduled to be shipped over to Afghanistan.
About two weeks before deployment, the orders for Brian and about 800 others were changed. He would spend nine months in a very secure American camp in Kuwait – out in the middle of a blistering desert.
Instead of being part of a dangerous convoy crew, Brian spent nine months doing paperwork in an office.
He didn’t get shot at and he didn’t have to shoot anyone.
God answers prayer.
I think I could have talked him out of joining the National Guard. But he developed skills, perseverance and knowledge that he couldn’t have obtained without going overseas. It’s not the right choice for everyone, but there are benefits.
My other son probably won’t serve and I am glad (because of the state of the military plus the commander-in-chief).
My family’s role in the military goes back before the Civil War (we fought on both sides). We were involved in the war efforts for World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
I have a deep appreciation for those who serve and an understanding of what their families endure.
God bless America and our veterans.