In the collage above the “doughboy” in the center is my Grandpa Allen. The photo below on the left was taken just before he shipped out for France with the American Expeditionary Force in World War I. When he returned home he helped establish the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars post in his hometown and operated it for the next 4 decades. That’s him in his VFW dress uniform of the right.
Two of Dad’s brothers also retired from the Navy after 20 years each. Uncle Paul is the sailor on the left in the photo below left. Uncle Bob is below right. All three brothers even received permission to serve on the same ship together at one point. This was not the best arrangement because the brothers argued, as brothers do, and they settled those arguments in true sailor style; with their fists.
That’s the three of them on shore leave in the center shot. Shortly after this was taken a fistfight broke out which eventually led to the brothers being thrown out of Naples, Italy. The Navy, in it’s wisdom, responded by keeping Dad on the ship, USS Worcester, a cruiser which was about to return to home port in Norfolk,Virginia. Uncle Bob was sent to the USS Duxbury Bay, a seaplane tender in the Persian Gulf. Uncle Paul soon found himself on the USS Iowa, a battleship providing fire support to UN forces fighting in Korea.
My mom’s brothers both served in the Army, as did practically every male coming of age during the 1950s in America. That’s Uncle Dave beside the helicopter on the left and Uncle Putnam on the right. The photo of Mom was taken just after Boot Camp in 1944.
Mom also had cousins who served in the Army during World War II. Below left is George Currier and right is Herbert Lord. Those of you from Mom’s home state of Massachusetts no doubt recognize George’s family name and, yes, he was one of those Curriers (Currier & Ives).
Of course I served in the US Air Force for 5 years and on active duty in the Air Force Reserves for another 9. Good Lord was I ever young in that shot (19) taken just as I was beginning Missile Combat Crew Upgrade training prior to being assigned to a Titan II ICBM combat crew. For the next 4 years I was one of those guys manning the silos, waiting to fight world War III. During my Reserve service I was a Pararescueman or “PJ”. The sailor on the right is my oldest sisters husband, Terry, just before he retired from the Navy after 20 years service.
The tradition continues. Our youngest daughter, Laura, rose to the rank of Cadet Colonel and Battalion commander during her four years of US Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. She was a Distinguished Expert Marksman with the battalion rifle team and competed twice in the US Army JROTC Nationals. She’s currently in her sophomore year of college.
The sailor on the right is Terry’s son Jeremiah. He is a US Navy Reserve Hospital Corpsman attached to a US Marine Corps Reserve unit in Ohio. On his first summer deployment he and his unit managed to get out of the line if fire in the Republic of Georgia when a shooting was between that country and Russia broke out.
My mother traces her line back to one of the original settlers of the Plymouth (later Massachusetts) Colony. Her genealogy lists one of her ancestors as a passenger on the Mayflower. Her family tree reads like a history of America with famous Americans such as Paul Revere, Samuel Chase, John Adams and John Quincy Adams and many more. There is no doubt that ancestors on Mom’s side of the family fought in every conflict to beset this nation from the very first time a Pilgrim set foot on this land. There are even references in her family history of some who were killed by Indians.
My father’s lineage is tougher to follow as few records beyond family bibles were kept and most of the family history was passed down through stories and anecdotes from generation to generation. What is know is that distant cousins in Clay County, Missouri, the Daltons and the James brothers were guerilla fighters during the American Civil War and later went on to rob banks. My great great grandfather is said to have died of wounds suffered at the battle of Shiloh.
My wife Frankie’s family is also mostly anecdotal or of the family bible variety, when there was one. Her lineage certainly goes back to Ireland as the father’s family name was said to have originally been O’Dill. Her grandfather served in the Spanish American war and remembered seeing Union occupation forces on the streets of our little town during reconstruction after the Civil War. That brother fought against brother in that war is a given in these parts. West Virginia refused to secede with the rest of Virginia and became a separate state when war broke out. This area was a powder keg, deeply divided and before the split, they were all Virginians. The state line is only about 40 miles from where I sit.
Through all the history of this great nation there is one tradition that is embedded in our genetic code:
DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY