Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Veteran Ancestors

This morning on this long Memorial Day weekend, I got to thinking about all the people in my family tree that have served in the military. I was surprised when I realized how long the list really was.

On my father's side:
  • Both my father and his brother served in the Navy during Vietnam. Their father, Lee McNeill (as mentioned in previous posts), also served in the Navy as a pharmacist's mate during the 1930s. My goal for this weekend is to finally draft the letter to the NARA to see if we can finally obtain his military records.
  • Lee's great-grandfather, Archibald H. McNeill, served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War serving in Co E, 6th North Carolina Infantry. He escaped from that unit, returned home to Mitchell Co, North Carolina, and enlisted in the Union Army, serving in Co A, 3rd Regiment of NC Mounted Infantry. If I also recall, two of Archibald's brothers, John and Daniel, also served during the Civil War.
  • William Woody, another great-grandfather of Lee, also joined Co E, 6th North Carolina Infantry and died of the measles at Ashland, Virginia in May 1862.
  • William Woody's great-grandfather, Henry Woody, served in the Revolutionary War from Virginia.
  • Henry Grindstaff, Lee's great-grandfather, served in the Mexican War.
  • Isaac Grindstaff, an ancestor of Henry, served in the Revolutionary War from North Carolina.
  • On my grandma's (Lee's widow) side, her grandfather Conrad Coons Scott served in Co H 35th Missouri Infantry and Co F 12th Missouri Cavalry for the Union during the Civil War. Two of Conrad's brothers also served during this conflict.

On my mother's side:

  • Her father, Fred J. Harmon, served in the Army Air Corp station at Wharton Air Base in Wharton, England during World War II. I remember listening to many of his war stories, including the fact that he REFUSED to eat brussel sprouts after being in England, that they had to march through mud in the rain, and that after he was diagnosed with pluresy and put in a military hospital, Dinah Shore came to sing for the patients. He would always sing "Someone's in the kitchen with Dinah" when I was a child and I didn't realize until I was an adult he always fondly was thinking of her! Both of Fred's brothers served during WWII: one stateside and the other in the Pacific at Guam.
  • Fred's great-grandfather, Thomas Arthur, served in Co D, 1st Minnesota Heavy Artillery during the Civil War.
  • My great-grandfather, Helmer N. Hiby, served during World War I at Ft. Riley, Kansas. One story that sticks in my memory is that he worked in the medical unit during the flu epidemic and carried all the deceased victims out of the hospital presumably to the morgue. Apparently he refused to go to funerals for the rest of his life.
  • I think there were some Harmons that served in the Revolutionary War, but am not sure if they are my direct ancestors. It's a research point I'm currently working on.
  • I think there is a Struble or perhaps a Studervant ancestor that served during the American Revolution as well. Again, something I'm still researching.

In my husband's family, his brother is currently serving a second tour of duty in Iraq. His wife has also served there as well. My father-in-law served in the U.S. Navy in the early 1960s and was stationed in Germany for a while where he got to connect with some of his German aunts, uncles, and cousins.

May you take the time this weekend and every day throughout the year to remember the sacrifices our military personnel makes through their time and even the sacrifice of their lives to serve our country and protect our freedoms. I know I will.

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