They Did What They Were Trained To Do

A few days ago I was talking with a young friend about history. He had recently finished a lesson about the American Revolution and was now learning about the Civil War in his history class. Like any 9 year old boy, he was fascinated with battlefields, strategy and weapons.

So this being Veteran’s Day, I’ve been thinking about who we honor today. Obviously, when we think of the military, like my young friend, we usually think of battles and weapons. But only a small percentage of military veterans ever saw combat. Those who did deserve all of our support, honor and respect as they carry “battle scars” both visible and invisible. The remainder of military veterans, all who honorably wore the uniform no matter what their role, also deserve our support, honor and respect. They may have worked in food service, supply service, medical corps, equipment maintenance, chaplain service, computer programing, secretarial service or other support services. Regardless of their service classifications, duty stations or roles, they all did what they were trained to do to serve and protect our country.

I met a veteran a few years ago who served in Europe in a weather monitoring and reporting unit during WWII. Another one had the job of ferrying VIPs and high-ranking officers in a small plane during the war. I met another man who served at both Pearl Harbor and Normandy. Donna-Mae Baldenecker Smith (1920-2010), the daughter of a friend of my Great grandfather, Arza Millikan, played the trumpet & “woke up the Army” as the first woman bugler of the US Military.

The stories of some of my ancestors who were veterans have been told in earlier blog posts. In the Civil War, young William Singleton Erp (1846-1862) was a drummer in the Union Army. His father, Allen Erp (1826-1885), was a soldier in the Union Army who, after an unfortunate accident with his rifle causing injury to his hand, took up the role of driving the ambulance wagon for the remainder of the war. Fred McKinley (1890-1972) never made it out of training during WWI due to contracting influenza and then being discharged with a disability. Chester Boone (1892-1954) went to France during WWI & worked in the supply depot. His brother, Richard Edwin Boone (1906-1980), a conscientious objector, was trained as a dental technician before going overseas during WWII. I don’t really think he used this part of his training in Europe, but he did work in the medical support service for Patton’s 3rd Army. At the end of the War, after the US forces entered Germany, he said he was painting signs—which was his civilian occupation. My Grandfather, John Chvarack (1916-1967), was drafted into the US Army toward the end of WWII, and served on the hospital ship USS Hope during its last voyages to Guam & the Philippines to evacuate the sick & wounded. He made the Army his career and primarily did office work except for a time in the early 1960’s when he did some classified work while in Germany. I’m still trying to find more information on what he was involved in then. My Father, Loran R McKinley, Jr (1938-2021), also made the US Army his career. He was in the medical laboratory service and while stationed in Okinawa, was involved in coordinating the blood supply needed for the soldiers in Vietnam. After that conflict was over, he continued to work in the medical laboratory in various military hospitals.

So these are just a few of the veterans in my family, who all had varied experiences in the military, but as far as I know, they did what they were trained to do, whether during wartime or peacetime. I thank them and all veterans for serving.

© MJM 2021

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