Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Day for Family Veterans

Jim showing off his military scrapbooks to family
Our family has ancestors who fought (and some died) in the Pequot War, King Phillip's War, and the Revolutionary War but I haven't tried figure out where they might have been on New Year's Day. Here are the the more recent family veterans' New Year's Day stories:

My Dad, 2nd Lt. Allen Woodruff, was in a Field Artillery unit at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, on New Year's Day of 1919. On New Year's Day of 1945 I was in Hawaii getting ready to ship out for Okinawa. Tough time at Waikiki Beach as I remember. T-4 Dick Woodruff was a forward observer radio man with the 911th Field Artillery Battalion of the 86th Infantry Division on their way to fight across Germany on that same day. We also know he was an MP in Manila on New Year's of 1946. That day in 1946 I was the Commanding Officer of an Engineer Topographic Company in Seoul, Korea. On New Year's Day of 1945 Seaman (eventually Gunner's Mate) John Woodruff was probably on an as yet unidentified troopship on the Pacific on the way to Ulithi where he boarded the Destroyer USS Bebas. His son Allen thinks that John was in dry dock at Pearl Harbor on New year's Day 1946. He was then assigned to the Minesweeper MS 107 that had a collision with an Army ship off Waikiki. On New Year's Day 1969 son-in-law Pvt. E-2 Ken Stock was on leave at home during a break between Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri.

My late sister-in-law Mary Ryan Woodruff's family served their country in spades. On New Year's Day of 1969 her nephew then Marine Pfc.Mike Ferris was on a hillside in Vietnam on radio watch in "Operation Dawson River". He had only been "in country" 65 days. He and I have an ongoing Email conversation going telling each other war stories. Her brother Tech Sgt. "Snub" Ryan of the 104th Infantry Division spent New Years Day of 1945 in Germany where he had just been in the awful Battle of Hurtgen Forest. He was reported to be the sole survivor of his platoon. Her brother "Uncle Pat" Ryan was probably at Elmendorf Air Base in Alaska on New Year's Day during a Korean War year but I just recently found out that Pat was in the Army so I will have to research his career. The saddest story is that of her brother Tom who was killed in a flight training accident at Douglas Field, an Army Air Force training base near the Mexican Border in Arizona. The accident happened in February, 1943, so I figure that's where he was on New Year's Day of 1943.

Nephew Richard's son Major Jason Woodruff is career Air Force. He was in Massachusetts at Hanscomb Air Force Base on New Year's Day of 2010. My nephew Lt. Col. John Woodruff is also career Air Force but since he has not been forthcoming with information on his career I'm going to leave him in limbo until he produces.

Ensign Uncle Tracy Shane was on the training ship SS Nantucket off Pellham Bay New York (or maybe on shore) on New Year''s Day of 1919. On New Year's Day of 1945 his son Lt. George Shane was at the Lemoore Army Flying School in California waiting for the B-24 bomber which he would fly in the U.S. during the rest of the war. On that same day Tracy's son-in-law Cpl.? Howard Elliot, a mortar man in the 102nd Infantry Division, was in a hospital at Bathe, England, recovering from two wounds received in battle in Germany, which earned him dual Purple Hearts. He would return to combat as a machine gunner with his Division before it crossed the Rhine River. On New Year's Day of 1954 George's brother First Class Petty Officer Bob Shane was at the Philadelphia Navy Yard on the Destroyer Gatling (DD 671) after an around-the-world cruise with three other destroyers following the Korean War armistice. They had been active with Naval Task Forces both east and west of Korea during the fighting. On New Year's Day of 1955 Cpl. Phil Shane was at Ft. Knox with the 74th Signal Company of the 3rd Armored Division.

My late wife Elaine's family had interesting military involvements starting with her great Grandfather Pvt. John George of the 1st Michigan Volunteer Artillery Regiment during the Civil War. On New Year's Day 1863 he was somewhere near the Clinch River in Tennessee, having been involved in the Battle of Walker's Ford in December of 1862. Her three Belke brothers and two Karstens cousins all served in the US Army. On New Year's Day 1945 Master Sergeant Russell was at Ft. Francis E. Warren, Wyoming. Tech Sergeant (later First Sgt.) Jerome was in England with the 9th Air Force. The previous New Year's he was in Egypt with that same 9th Air Force. Sergeant Richard was at the McCook Army Air Base in Nebraska on New Year's day of 1945. Brother Jerome signed up with the reserves after the war which got him a tour in Germany with the Army Engineers during the Korean War. Cousin Ron Karstens was at Ft. Dix, New Jersey, on New Year's Day 1958 on his way to Germany. Cousin Don Karstens left for basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood on New Year's Day 1960. He would spend the next New Year's Day in Korea. Elaine's nephew, Jerome's son, Wayne Belke was an Air Force Lieutenant on a US air base Taiwan on New Year's Day of 1972.

Cousin-in-law Chief Warrant Officer Darrell Floro, Mary's husband who had a 40 year career in the Ohio National Guard, was at home in Oak Harbor most New Years (unless Mary can inform me differently). Cousin Lt. Don Thayer was at Johnson Air Base in Japan and Cousin Sgt. Rod Thayer was at Kadena Ar Base on Okinawa on New Year's Day 1952. Mary and Darrell's son Chris was in the Army Special Forces so we are not supposed to know where he was all his service years but we know enough to say he was in Ft. Bragg, N.C. on New Year's Day 2006. Mary and Darrell's daughter Betsy was in ROTC at Michigan State for a while, but I don't know if she was still in it on any New Year's Day.

Cousin Vincent Pratt served on the Aircraft Carrier USS Saratoga. After a cruise in the Mediterranean in the summer of 1962 the Saratoga was involved in the blockade of Cuba during the Missile Crisis. Thus on New Year's Day of 1963 Vince was down in the boiler room of the Saratoga which was cruising on patrol in the Caribbean. Uncle Henry Pratt was in the horse cavalry ROTC at Michigan Agricultural College in 1916 so I calculate that he was back at the family home south of Watervliet on Christmas break on New Year's Day of 1917. Cousins Harlan and Bob Pratt were in the ROTC at UCLA in 1926 so on New Year's Day of 1927 I imagine they would have been home with Aunt Louise. Marj Pratt Ingram will have to straighten me out if that guess is wrong.

If I have messed up any of the years in this account, I assume you will correct me. This started out as a New Year's Day project but it grew like my Military Scrapbook project. Like I always say, it keeps me out of the pool hall.