Honoring Our Veterans

Paul M. Ryan Jr

My Dad, shown here, was just one of the hundreds of Gloucester residents who answered the call of duty when he enlisted in the Army just out of high school in 1945. It meant delaying his entry to college but ROTC training in high school must have prepared him somewhat for what was ahead. It was a different culture at the time and he never talked much about any of his military service, but I believe it likely that he felt it nothing less than his duty to enlist. He further interrupted his college career a few years afterward by re-enlisting for the Korean War. This time I expect a major factor was the GI Bill’s promise to support his college aspirations.

Like thousands of others in the “Greatest Generation”, he was tight-lipped about his military experience. I was curious so I sent away to the National Archives for his records. Did you know these are available to descendants for (often) no cost? Here’s a link for more information. I was hopeful that I’d gain some insight into his experiences during those enlistments, but, alas, his particular records apparently were lost in a fire. Just by the way, if you are doing family history research you will learn there was ALWAYS a fire that destroyed important records. You might have better luck if you are curious about an ancestor’s military experience. I encourage you to request the records.

Regardless, his story is the story of so many of our veterans. Not all went willingly and some share their stories, but all deserve recognition for their sacrifices.

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