Freedom, honor and hope are words to describe the driving force of a serviceman. World War II veteran, Arthur Rudolph Dominguez came from humble beginnings, but led the life of a solider, a father and a man of many stories.
Walking into the Dave Ward Hospice in Conway, there was an energy, a slight feeling of nostalgia and pride. Dominguez, diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma and dementia looked nothing akin to the many who find themselves in this environment. Full of life and honor, Dominguez relayed his story.
"I always wanted to join the service, but I was always told that I was, ‘too young, too short, too weak,’" said Dominguez.
Raised by his aunt since six days old, he fell into some reckless behavior that then landed him a probation officer who eventually supported his military curiosity.
"Well, I was 15 at the time, and you had to be 17 to get into the Navy. My probation officer told me to we could get a church birth certificate because those are handwritten and we could change the date," said Dominguez, "A bottle of Purex and a steady hand made me age two years," he said with a grin.
Dominguez explained that after Pearl Harbor all of the young men were "Gung Ho" to enter the war effort. Some were drafted and others joined simply to fight for their country.
Following the bombs dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, President Harry S. Truman wanted to test two new atomic bombs. In 1945, aboard the communication ship The U.S.S Appalachian; two atomic bombs were tested in separate ways. The first, on June 4, was to be dropped on the U.S.S Missouri, and the second, on July 3, was detonated under water.
"I was seven miles away from the first bomb and three from the second. We didn’t know anything about radiation at the time, it was just a show," said Dominguez.
Following the detonation of the second bomb, 500 men "got a beer buzz and swam in the lagoon," said Dominguez, "we didn’t know that the water was radioactive."
Dominguez explained that after swimming and enjoying the day many men were showing signs of heart murmurs and high fever.
"I was in the sick bay for over two weeks," said Dominguez.
Following his time off the cost of the Hawaii, Dominguez decided to leave the service.
"There was a lot of encouragement to leave," said Dominguez, "They offered the whole ball of wax. At the time they would pay for your education and get a discharge bonus of $150, then when you were married you’d get $50 reimbursement each month."
Dominguez continued to explain that the G.I. Bill, or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act passed in 1944, offered Veterans of WWII a way to start a new life following their brave service.
"Thanks to the G.I. Bill, I went to college and got a degree in business and then I continued my life. I had three boys; the oldest is now 65 and is a CEO in a California firm," said Dominguez.
Dawning his hat with an embroidered duck, Dominguez explained, "Do you see that duck? It’s called a ‘Ruptured Duck.’ It’s the symbol of a WWII Veteran," said Dominguez. With pride on his face and freedom in his heart, he looked deep into the eye of the Ruptured Duck, a reminder of his service and his commitment to this great nation.
Dominguez was honored by the Faulkner County Health Department Hospice. "We Honor Veterans," said Glenda Luter. The certificate presented to Dominguez was one of 20 to be given out to Arkansas hospice veterans and was given by Hospice Volunteer, Ed McNutt and Hospice Social Worker, Marysue McNutt.
For more information on volunteer opportunities at the Arkansas Department of Health Hospice contact Glenda Luter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479.968.4177 ext. 140