Wherever he went, Sgt. Richard Boston carried a small green notebook.
He made observations. He wrote down activities of the day. He scribbled poems that came to him.
Raised by his mom after his dad died when his fishing boat capsized, Boston joined the U.S. Navy in 1959, heading off to duty with $10 in his pocket. His mom had to sign off on his enlistment before he could step on the bus since he was just 17.
Boston saw active duty during the Vietnam War, this time in the U.S. Army, which he joined when his time with the Navy ended. Again, he reached for the notebook to write whenever he had time.
Years later, he would pull a notebook out and read portions to family and friends. Boston had re-written his words into larger notebooks, eventually filling a dozen.
His daughter Amanda in particular loved those times her dad would read his original thoughts. “I was fascinated by his stories and how he put his words together,’’ she said.
Amanda, who teaches in the Special Education Department at Mount Markham High School, wanted others to hear her dad’s words, and perhaps be inspired by them. Last year, five years after her dad passed away, she put some of his poems and photos in a book called ‘A Soldier’s Heart: My Late Father’s Poetry From The Vietnam War’.
Her dad, she said, didn’t have an easy upbringing. He was the youngest of three when his dad drowned, witnessing it and trying to save him despite being too young to have learned to swim.
“They didn’t have a lot of money and that led him to enlist,’’ Amanda said. “But he was also patriotic and felt it was his duty.’’
So much so that when his first enlistment in the Navy ended in October 1962 - coinciding with the Cuban Missile Crisis - Richard Boston re-enlisted for another year.
A year when his discharge papers came again, he ripped them up and threw them in the trash, extending his time for another year.
“My father loved to read history books,’’ Amanda said. “He had a great sense of humor and was a terrific father, patient…