Tribute to Heyward O. Dunham
written 1 August 2001 by oldest son
Daniel L Dunham, Tsgt, USAF Ret.


Heyward O. (Bud) Dunham was born 28 April, 1922. He enlisted in the US Navy on the 25th of June, 1940 and was assigned to the USS Salt Lake. He died on the 14th of July, 2001 at the age of 79. He had 5 children; 3 boys Daniel, Steven, and Franklin and 2 girls Cynthia Gardner, and Marla Fredericks. He is survived by his wife, Ethel Marie Dunham and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

That is what most people know about my father. But there was more to this man than he lived and he died. One of the poems on the web site for the Salt Lake is the Dash. What matters in a man's life is how he lived the dash. I know a little more about my father and what made him the man he was after I found the web site for the Salt Lake. I am retired from the US Air Force and know how that experience effected the way I live and look at things and now I know more about a period of time that helped to mold my father.

I am not going to write a flowing glowing narration about how he was the best father there was. The truth of the matter is, when I joined the Air Force in May of 1966, I did it to get away from my father. I refer to it as running away from home, legally. No, my father was a long way from perfect but then my step-brothers and sisters didn't know my father. When they started growing he was a different man. My nieces and nephews knew a grandfather that was different than their parent's father. That is one nice thing about life, we can change as we go along. One of the problems is that our previous actions sometimes have lasting consequences. Like wise I am not going any deeper into his problems. Rather what I would like to do here is give credit where credit is due. For an eighth grade education, my father was a smart man.

He joined the Navy in 1940 at 18 years of age. He learned a trade while serving in the Navy. He was very proud of his service to his country. He was supportive of veteran everywhere. He didn't talk about his time of service during WWII. One time after giving him his book on the Salt Lake he called me into the room for a talk. He was weak by this time and couldn't do much talking. He wanted to be the one to tell me that he had to stand a Captains Mast for AWOL. He was afraid someone else might say something and I would be disappointed. Well, it was no big deal. He just wanted to make sure he got his liberty when he got to port. Maybe he didn't take it the right way but then we all do dumb things when we are young.

Upon being discharged from the Navy he came home to Ohio. Eventually he met my Mother and they were married in late 1947. They had problems and were divorced by the time I was 4. Later he met my Step-Mother, Ethel Marie and they were married in March 1954. They were married for 47 years until his death this year.

My father quit school in the 8th grade. When he was able to join the Navy his older brother signed the papers. He learned his trade in the Navy. He invented different tools needed for his job, working with heating and air-conditioning. He invented a tool to clean condensers that not only had a wire brush scraping scale off the inside with water flushing it out, it also had a sensor that would let you know when you got the tube clean. His first invention that I know of was called the Sun-Cap. It was used in the sun while you are trying to solder copper pipe.

When he finally retired for medical reasons he began working on items to be used in home swimming pools. He wanted to have something that would determine the PH levels in your pool and let you know when to add chemicals.

About December 1999 my wife and I were trying to figure out what to get Dad for Christmas. It had to be something special. Well I wanted to try and find a model of the USS Salt Lake. While on the InterNet I came across this web sight for the Salt Lake. I also wanted to try to get him a membership in the Pearl Harbor Association. Anyway, I was so fascinated by this sight that I sat up that night and read the Cruise Book. I learned stuff I never knew before, Dad never really talked about the war. He watched everything on TV but didn't really talk about it.

Well, I proceeded to contact Sandy and Pat for permission to copy material to put in a book for my Dad as a Christmas present. I became busy printing and copying and putting in document protectors and in a three ring binder. I included magazine articles, the Cruise book, some pictures, and lots of technical information. I got the book together a few days before Christmas.

We lived about 5 hours away so we would go to Mom and Dads the night before. When we got there that Christmas I gave Dad his book. He looked and it and started crying. I wasn't sure I did the right thing until the next day. This was the first item he showed anyone who came to the house.

Later I wanted to add some pages to it and he was afraid I was going to take the book away. I assured him it was his book, I was just putting more pages in it.

At the visitation on Monday the 16th of July, I found out what that book really meant to Dad. A number of people came to me and told me how he always wanted them to see his book. One care giver who came in to sit with Dad so Mom could get out said that was the only thing they looked at. Dad would read story after story as he turned the pages. Later Dad asked him to read the stories for him. The Pastor told of how Dad was always pointing out new things to him from his book.

The USS Salt Lake book was placed on a table in the funeral home. Everyone who came to visit us made a stop and sat down at the couch and looked or read part of the book. One individual who was a crew member on the Salt Lake sat there and read through the whole think.

As I close this tribute to Heyward O Dunham I want to thank Sandy Eskew. Without her hard work the book I put together for Dad that Christmas would not have been possible.

Because of this Christmas present two years ago, many more people know about the events of WWII that didn't make the history books. Many more people know about the sacrifices made by our service men during this war.

For everyone I know and my family, I want to say thank you to all who served during WWII but especially to those who served on the USS Salt Lake.

Daniel L Dunham, Tsgt, USAF Ret


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