Tarmo, Pentti and Jorma Sr.

Tarmo, Pentti and Jorma Sr.

The parents of my generation served almost to a man and a woman in WWII. Uncle Tarmo seen here on a bicycle somewhere in Italy. I never met Uncle Tarmo. There’s a picture of him somewhere in a box in my garage where he poses with Leo the MGM lion… He trained animals figure skated and was an artist in civilian life. He fought his way from North Africa, through Sicily and Italy. He made it through the war but died in a VA Hospital in Memphis from lung cancer in 1945. We have his flag my Grandma left me. He is buried in a National Cemetery in Los Angeles.

I got to know Pentti quite well when I moved to the Bay Area in California in 1962. He was the first one to welcome into what would really become the starting point of my life. There are no pictures of him in uniform that I know of. He was a reluctant warrior… a gentle soul who carried a flame thrower on his back as his outfit fought its way through the South Pacific until we liberated the Philippines. He never talked about his service though I could see there was pride in his memory. There was pain too… he never really recovered from that experience. Today we would probably call it PTSD. In his 50’s he went into a VA Hospital for what seemed like a minor operation and it seemed as if living was just too painful for him. He never came out. I have missed him every day since then. He was my friend.

My Dad, Jorma Sr., was the oldest of the three boys. Born in 1910 with eyesight that needed correction, he tried to enlist and they wouldn’t take him. Mom laboriously helped him with eye exercises until he could pass the physical. He went into the Navy and because of his gift with languages, attended the Navy Language School which was in Ann Arbor in those days. He went to Japan after the surrender to MacArthur in ’45. After the fire bombing of Tokyo there was little left standing save plumbing and safes. My Dad’s guys cracked the safes, and Dad translated the documents they found. Dad would up spending many years in the Far East and would up a Foreign Service Officer. I am so grateful that Dad and I lived long enough to become real friends. He loved Vanessa and he would have loved the kids. I miss him calling me ‘The Kid.’

Jorma Sr. and Uncle Pen are buried in Inglewood Cemetery in LA next to my Mother Beatrice and my Grandparents Ida and Jaako. They rest together in the flight path of LA International Airport.

There is an unbroken line of veterans who have served this great country. I will just mention two of my dearest friends, Jerry S. and Chuck F. Thanks guys… and thanks to all the brothers and sister I will never meet…

I honor you all!


  1. Comment made on November 17, 2015 by Greg Martelli

    I am always moved by Jormas noteworthy remembrance of those that have served both living and dead.
    Many have given their lives and msny more their energies to insure the freedoms and liberties that we enjoy.
    My uncle (19) is buried in St Avold (Alsace – Lorraine)U.S army cemetery ,he was decorated with a silver star for personally carrying one by one wounded Gis across the last standing bridge in Nancy,the bridge today bears a plaque in his name only commemorating his efforts.
    We will not make the Beacon this year as schedule prohibits ,but did enjoy a great acoustic show at Fur Peace last weekend(a full go round).
    Wish we could attend the lecture /intermezzo at the EXPLORERS CLUB upcoming as it is one of our favorite NY destinations.

    Such a long , long time to be gone
    And a short time to be there.
    Vive la france

  2. Comment made on November 17, 2015 by rich l

    There is so much right with his response; Antoine is a much bigger man than I.

    Antoine 1 Terrorists 0


  3. Comment made on November 17, 2015 by Hamneggs

    Absolutely beautiful
    Thanks for posting that.
    Love All Ways

  4. Comment made on November 17, 2015 by rich l

    This was the best response to the tragedy in France that I read. It might not be the appropriate place to share, but somehow I thought a few of you might agree. It definitely helped mollify my hatred.

    “I will not grant you the gift of my hatred.”

    That’s what Antoine Leiris, a Parisian whose wife was killed in the Paris terrorist attacks on Friday, wrote in a powerful Facebook status three days after the tragedy. His wife, 35-year-old hair and makeup artist Helene Muyal-Leiris, was killed in the Bataclan concert hall on Friday, HuffPost France reported Monday. Muyal-Leiris leaves behind her husband and one 17-month-old son, Melvil.

    Throughout his post, Leiris addresses an unnamed person or group of people in the second person. On Saturday, the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks, and French President Francois Hollande vowed a “merciless” response.

    The post was translated from French, and edited for clarity:


    Friday night, you took an exceptional life — the love of my life, the mother of my son — but you will not have my hatred. I don’t know who you are and I don’t want to know, you are dead souls. If this God, for whom you kill blindly, made us in his image, every bullet in the body of my wife would have been one more wound in his heart.

    So, no, I will not grant you the gift of my hatred. You’re asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are. You want me to be scared, to view my countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my liberty for my security. You lost.

    I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago. Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.

    We are just two, my son and me, but we are stronger than all the armies in the world. I don’t have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.

  5. Comment made on November 16, 2015 by Barbara Jacobs

    Maybe Tommy Ryan, if still with us, or his family members remember Jerry. He was very close with the south Bronx NYFD. They were brothers in arms.
    Jerry was promoted to Detective in the homicide division. Very often, those two agencies overlapped in their work and investigations.@Hamneggs

    Rock on, Hamneggs.

  6. Comment made on November 16, 2015 by tom

    Although these blog entries were mostly veteran themed,and we are all blessed by their sacrifices, I understand your anticipation about the upcoming beacon shows.Rumor is Friday opens with tuna acoustic duo joined by John Hammond on harp followed by the electric trio to finish the first set.Second set electric with Larry and Teresa. Saturday electric hot tuna with special guests doing both tuna and airplane songs. Should be hot no matter what the lineup,nothing like Tuna in NYC fall/winter.

  7. Comment made on November 15, 2015 by Hamneggs

    @Barbara Jacobs
    don’t know of Jerry Palace but Tommy Ryan is an old family friend, he worked the 44 pct when I went to High School and was my neighbor growing up. Endless to say there is more to that story but Tommy was always there for my parents.
    Viva La France
    Love All Ways

  8. Comment made on November 15, 2015 by Barbara Jacobs

    Those years/decades in the south Bronx were known as Fort Apache.
    The Bronx was burning and it was the very worst place to be assigned.
    Have you ever heard of Jerry Palace?
    Jerry is a friend who, while in the NYPD, was assigned to the south Bronx.
    He was promoted to Detective and after retiring started his own security firm:
    “Palace Guards”.
    Jerry’s father served and survived “The Battle of The Bulge”.@Hamneggs

  9. Comment made on November 15, 2015 by Barbara Jacobs

    It’s always interesting to read Jorma’s Veterans Day blog.
    After the terrorist attacks in Paris this past week, it’s clear that if you live in a big city — keep your eyes open and stay alert.
    It’s a new century and new warfare is in place.

    Thanks to all who served in the military and to those currently serving.

  10. Comment made on November 15, 2015 by johno

    does anyone really know what’s gonna happen next week at the Beacon – is fri gonna be different from sat – getting real excited – its gonna be nuts!!!!!!

  11. Comment made on November 14, 2015 by richu

    sounds like you and your dad had a lot of good times at one point,,,and what great memories.and now look at you.one of the hardest working guys out there ,when most the rest have chucked it.keep movin on.

  12. Comment made on November 14, 2015 by DennisK

    Love to hear about your Dad and his brothers. My Dad served in the USMC, is a multi-cancer survivor. He currently lives in Mt. Tabor, right around the corner from the Tabernacle. He also proudly carries his 45 year coin. I would love for you to meet him someday. He is a pistol.

    Volney Phifer was one of Hollywood’s first animal trainers and retired in New Jersey with Leo the MGM Lion. He buried Leo (in his front yard) in Gillette, NJ, down the road from our old farm house in Millington. We drove by the grave marker all the time.

    Be well. Maybe we will bump into you in Mt. Tabor.
    Bloomsbury, NJ

  13. Comment made on November 13, 2015 by Hogan

    Hey Jorma,

    Thanks so much for always recognizing our service men and women on your blog and thank you to all that took a vow to serve and protect our great country.
    Nice to see that Barry will be playing with you and Jack this weekend at the Ranch.
    Pretty excited about the Beacon shows coming up…looks like a good time indeed.
    Safe Travels
    Take Care

  14. Comment made on November 12, 2015 by jim hitchcock

    My dad never ate rice again after serving in the Phillipines. Never talked about the War, either.

    He and my Mom reside in Inglewood park, too. I’m humbled by the fact that such a good guy, and my wonderful Mom are neighbors of Jorma’s folks.

    Also noteworthy is that seconds after the cemeetary the same planes pass over The Fabulous Forum!

  15. Comment made on November 12, 2015 by johno

    Your Dad lived a really important and exciting life. He was over there with MacArthur – one of our greatest generals. Very impressive. My Dad was in the Pacific also.

  16. Comment made on November 12, 2015 by Brett

    Thanks for the post Jorma!!

    And THANKS to all who have served and who are serving

  17. Comment made on November 12, 2015 by Hamneggs

    Needless to say I love that bike picture.
    At my father’s wake Leo, his best man made me feel like a kid again with his magic tricks, removing thumb, disappearing quarter ( He has one on his headstone)
    He also told me they served in WWII by trying to avoid the draft. They joined early and figured they would be out before the war started and all the jobs would be available when everybody else was called up. They were due to be discharged December 31, 1941 but something came up a few weeks before on Sunday, December 7, 1941.
    After the war he tried to explain to his sister-in-law that Uncle Johnny saw too much at Anzio and might never be the same. He wasn’t and wound up dying young.
    My father was my best man at my wedding and retired from the NYFD after 29 years in Harlem and the South Bronx. The Department refers to the late 50’s- to late 70’s as The War Years. So much for that cushy job.
    I also had the privilege of making an impromptu pancake breakfast, from scratch, for my son’s friend at 0430 after they had closed the bars and before he went to Afghanistan.
    Love All Ways

  18. Comment made on November 11, 2015 by Dan

    Thx to all who served.

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