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robcollins
04-04-2013, 11:10 PM
Has anyone attempted this? I would like to build ribbon bars for my two grandpas that served in WW II. For my grandpa that was in the Navy, I think it's easier because I know the ship he was on and the approximate date he earned the Purple Heart. For my grandpa in the Army, he claimed to just be a radioman, and didn't say much else. After his death I found out that he was a BAR gunner, it makes me sick that I don't know more. They, and my whole family, sacrificed a lot.

Any stories you've got that you'd like to share, or advice you've got on getting more info, I'd be grateful!

Ralph
04-05-2013, 03:55 AM
This is the place to go.

http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/

Personnel records from all services are being consolidated under the umbrella of the National Archives. My limited personal experience is that these folks are quite efficient. The more information you can dig up the better. Service, service number, full name, address of enlistment, places and dates served all help to narrow down the search.

States also maintain military records for state militias and National Guard usually under the office of the Adjutant General. I was the administrative officer for the New York Guard 1992-93 - the 50th anniversary of WWII - and got quite a few requests. The NYG did not use service numbers at the time, just name and place of residence. I never had an unfound name and rarely did it take longer than 2 weeks to get photocopies of the service record.

The federal ribbons and medals for that era are readily available. Here is one place to find them:
http://www.medalsofamerica.com/

A lot of these guys were very reticent about what they experienced and what they did. I know several people who discovered upon going through Granpa's things after he died came across such deorations as the Distinguished Service Cross (second highest decoration for valor) and the Silver Star. Some of the citations would make your hair stand up. Turned out their quiet, loving and soft-spoken grandfather had been quite a warrior in his day.

Good luck with your search.

Daveinjax
04-05-2013, 10:26 AM
Almost to a man they all say they were just doing their job , trying to survive , helping their brothers in arms , and feel somewhat embarrassed to be honored above their peers. Most are deeply conflicted about the events. They can only see the friends they couldn't save not those they did and feel a horror for those they killed . No matter how justified , for a good man the killing of another human is a deep regret. So for all these reasons and many more most do not wish to speak of their medals.

Ralph
04-05-2013, 11:12 AM
Not many try to be heros - you do what you gotta do. In my experience, most don't regret what they did so much as they regret it was necessary to do it. Still, the family history is important and that includes wartime accomplishments. An old friend had both parents in WWII, his mother had the Purple Heart (she was an army nurse straffed while riding in a jeep). Sometimes the history is tragic, sometimes funny, sometimes a little of both.

robcollins
04-05-2013, 12:01 PM
Grandpa Collins had been excluded from service because he had a bad back and flat feet, but in addition to loving to hunt squirrels and fish, he really liked to fight. The Navy finally accepted him in late '44 and he got to be a gunner on the USS Benion in early '45. They shot down 11 planes within a short period of time in late April, one of which collided with the ship. He was critically injured and ultimately died from a combination of his wounds and viral encephalitis in August of '48. My dad contracted this virus from himl and as a result had to re-learn to walk and talk at age 5.

The pictures I have of him look remarkably like my Dad, and I've been told that I look a lot like them both by people who knew grandpa. Those pictures include him with a brace of squirrels, and with the crew and fish they caught and cooked prior to the run-up to Okinawa.

Grandpa Ware was a lineman for KC Power & Light after the war, then retired and moved to the Lake of the Ozarks. He kept us in crappie fillets, (but he didn't like to eat fish) black walnuts and wild blackberries, he saved the gooseberries for himself which grandma made into the sourest pies ever, which he'd eat without sugar. He had no interest in hunting ever, but never elaborated why. Running trot lines, trolling for white bass, and jigging for crappie were his favorite things. He suffered from depression, but never drank. He read the bible from cover to cover and mowed at the Baptist church and replaced the neighborhood streetlight I shot out with my bb-gun at age 6.

My admiration for these guys is difficult to express, thinking about them is about the quickest path to a lump in my throat. Thanks for the link Ralph, I think both you and Dave hit the nail on the head with your responses.

Thanks to you and more importantly to the men and women who have served. This thanks isn't offered nearly enough, just based on what my family has suffered to protect our country. I'm humbled by the debt I owe.

Tom
04-06-2013, 07:18 AM
I will be 70 this year, and your grandfather was of my Dad's generation. Every day, I challenge myself--"Try to live a life that is worthy of the sacrifices these men and women made."