Kids follow dad’s steps into military service

Amid the usual Veteran’s Day ceremonies and flag waving, one area veteran is going to celebrate the holiday in reflection.

Dan Holub of rural Marion plans to remember the 20 years he served in the Navy, his fellow comrades in arms and the support of his family while he was away on duty.

“It’s usually just quiet,” said Holub, 56, of his time spent during the official holiday honoring those who have served in all wars.

“You become a loner to some degree. Other veterans understand. It’s a time to reflect on what it costs-the lives, the effort-just everything that goes into it.”

Beginning when he enlisted in 1968 and his service in Viet Nam, Holub’s military record and medals could stand alone to single him out for recognition.

But one more factor makes him unique. All four of his children currently serve in the military and have each enlisted for four-year terms.

Heather, 24, is in the Army and is in the demilitarized zone in Korea. Chris, 22, is in the Marines and is stationed in Iraq. Tamra, 20, is also in Iraq with the Army. Youngest sibling Molly, 18, is in the Army in school at Fort Leonardwood, Mo.

They may eventually choose the military as a career because they have told Holub and wife Rhonda they like what they are doing.

“We’ll see what happens,” Holub said.

Why are all four enlisted?

“I don’t know,” Holub said. “I didn’t want to push them. I never said a word. Chris came home one day and announced he was going to test himself, and he joined the Marine Corps. The girls were all about education, and they just did it.”

After graduating from Centre High School, Holub enrolled in political science at Emporia State University. Two years later in 1968, he decided to enlist in the Navy.

“I wanted out of Kansas, quite frankly,” Holub said. “I needed to go see something. I was going to school in Emporia, and I just wasn’t sure why I was there.”

As an enlistee, he eventually moved through the ranks to retire in 1988 as a lieutenant commander.

“I maintained aircraft weapon systems and weapons themselves-everything associated with getting weapons on aircraft and right back off,” Holub said.

Stationed with his family in Lemoore, Calif., Holub served on three cruises during the Viet Nam War.

“The first cruise, we left the states on Jan. 1, 1970, and got back Dec. 23 of the same year,” Holub said. “So it was 51 weeks. It was a world cruise. I was aboard the ship launching combat strikes.”

While working as a weapons-school instructor on shore duty, he was also involved with the evacuation of Saigon.

In 1976, he returned to sea duty and completed two more cruises.

“It was going off to the Orient, but there wasn’t much going on at that point in time,” Holub said.

His next move was four years as air-wing weapons officer on the U.S.S. Enterprise and the U.S.S. Coral Sea.

“That’s where we were involved trying to rescue the Iranian hostages in Lebanon-I was over there for that,” Holub said.

“I was there for the destroyer battles in the North Arabian Sea, when the Iranians were on the oil-drilling platforms. We sunk two destroyers. This was around the early 1980s. Then, I was involved with Libya, Lebanon and Granada, off and on in between there.”

His final three years of service were on the admiral’s staff in aviation ordinance in Lemoore.

Holub retired in November 1988, and moved his family to rural Marion to farm. He left farming in 1997 and now works in the parts department at Deer Trail in Marion.

Holub won a seat as a Marion County commissioner in the elections this month.

“I want to make a difference, and it’s something I can do,” he said about.

Although he earned medals while in service, Holub was modest about their importance.

“A lot of those are if you’re just in the right place at the right time,” he said.

What was important was the life lessons he learned.

“I quit taking things for granted, and I hear the same things from my kids,” Holub said.

“You hear about military being more patriotic. I don’t think they’re more patriotic. I think they’re more aware of what we have have here compared to how the rest of the world has it, and you know the cost, the price to keep it.”

What is the price?

“It’s an ordeal,” Holub said. “You may come back alive and well, but there is a price being paid to maintain what we’ve got. You become very aware of what it costs to live our lifestyle.”

As a Viet Nam veteran, Holub said he has memories of rotten eggs tossed at him from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

“It’s a free country,” he said. “That’s what they believed in, but I didn’t agree with what they did.”

For his children, the attitude about the war in Iraq is different than what he experienced. They tell him about receiving care packages and impromptu acts of kindness from strangers.

Tamra told her father she was in uniform passing through Wichita on her way home recently and stopped to get gas at a convenience store. She went up to the counter to pay, only to discover that it had already been taken care of.

“When she asked who it was, the guy at the counter said he had already left,” Holub said. “He didn’t even wait to be thanked. And (my children) have had meals bought for them at restaurants. There have been a lot of random acts of kindness that have been unbelievable.”

Holub said he believes the current attitude of honor and respect comes from a silent majority that existed during Viet Nam but now appears to be making more of an effort.

“It’s like they’re not going to let it happen like it happened in Viet Nam,” Holub said. “And that’s fine. Maybe that’s the lesson we needed to learn from Viet Nam.”

Holub said his children have each been making their own path in the military.

Heather is a veterinarian’s assistant in the Army and has served 11/2 years. “She likes it,” Holub said. “She believes in what she’s doing.”

Chris is a sergeant in the Marines and was planning to finish his four years of service in December.

“He was supposed to be home next month, but they extended his squadron,” Holub said. “So he’ll be back next May. He’s still thinking about it as a career. He’s having the time of his life.”

After serving about two years in the Army, Tamra is a sergeant. She began in the reserves after high-school graduation and was called to active duty after advanced training was completed.

“She likes it,” Holub said. “There’s a lot of possibilities for a career. So she’s thinking about it.”

Molly entered Army boot camp in July and upon completion, she began training for military-police work.

“She graduates the day before Thanksgiving,” Holub said. “We have no idea where she’s going yet.”

On Nov. 11, while others take part in a celebration to honor veterans, Holub will be thinking about everyone affected by the wars.

“It was a hard time in people’s lives,” he said. “How you celebrate depends on your experience and how you feel about things.”

If he had to do it over again, Holub said he would not hesitate to enlist.

“I don’t regret one day of it,” he said. “Now that the kids are all gone, if the military called me up right now, I’d go in a heartbeat.”

Holub said he’s proud of what his children are doing.

“But I was proud of them before they did this,” he said. “I’m glad they’re doing what they believe in. They didn’t have to join the military, not at all. But they’re doing what they believe in-they’re good citizens.

“It’s only four years, but it will last them a lifetime. It’s a good experience, and it will never go away.”

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