Friday, November 11, 2011

Family History with Veterans

Today we Honor the memory of those United States military men and women who gave of themselves to protect and preserve our Republic.   This is a duty that many do without question and some who give the ultimate sacrifice.   We can not forget what this country was founded on and how it has shaped us.   The rights we cherish today we owe to so many men and women of our past who defended our freedoms.

The words written on paper over 200 years ago still show the brilliance that were our founding fathers.
From the Declaration of Independence:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." 

From our US Constitution: "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..."
Many countries around the world look to us for leadership and inspiration.   We have a lot to be proud of and thankful for.  

For those who read my posts and do family history and/or genealogy research, it is good to know we have a rich source of information online and in institutions that we can access.   For me, I am proud to say I have at least 2 direct descendents who fought in the American Revolution, and one direct descendent who was in the Civil War.   However, I have several dozen cousins, aunts, uncles, in-laws and more who have been in every conflict going back to 1776.

One story I want to share is about my maternal great uncle and aunt - Dan and Pauline McGinley.   Dan and Pauline each served in WWII.   The importance of this is that much of who we are is basically a product of the heritage or stories about our past.   The stories about their service to the greater good of the country are to me, the most important.   

Dan McGinley was born March 26,1906 in Colorado and Pauline Foy on Jun 11,1906 in Nebraska.   Both families lived in the same "neighborhood" around Iliff, Colorado, where the majority of families who moved there were homesteaders.   Pauline graduated from St. Patrick's high school in 1925 and went on to become a nurse.  Dan was a salesman and businessman.   They married in June 1933 in Colorado.

As the clouds of war erupted in Europe and Asia, we all know what happened in 1941, that resulted in the United States entering WWII.

Many may not know this, but in 1940, FDR and Congress passed the Selective Training and Service Act:
"...also known as the Burke-Wadsworth Act, 54 Stat. 885 was passed by the Congress of the United States on September 17, 1940, becoming the first peacetime conscription in United States history when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law two days later. This Selective Service Act required that men between the ages of 21 and 35 register with local draft boards. Later, when the U.S. entered World War II, all men aged 18 to 45 were made liable for military service, and all men aged 18 to 65 were required to register." (source: wiki)
As a result of this law and of course our declaration of War, in sometime in the spring/summer of 1942, Dan McGinley, 36 years old, was selected to serve in the US Army.   He enlisted August 5, 1942 and was sent to New Guinea to serve until the end of the war and was mustered out on October 31, 1945.

This is Dan's enlistment record (source:

Name: Daniel J McGinley
Birth Year: 1906
Race: White, Citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Colorado
State of Residence: Arizona

Enlistment Date: 5 Aug 1942
Enlistment State: Arizona
Enlistment City: Phoenix
Branch: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial - Warrant Officers, USA
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life

Education: 4 years of high school
Civil Occupation: Salespersons
Marital Status: Married
Height: 65
Weight: 140

Finding out that Dan was going into active duty, one can only imagine the emotions that Pauline and Dan must have felt.   What they decided next is what truly represents courage and allegiance for one's country.
Pauline was a determined person and as a nurse, she could help in the war effort.   As a result, she felt it was her duty and could do more good, by enlisting in the Army.   This was going to be difficult at best, as the military would not allow a married spouse to join.   Therefore, after careful consideration, they decided to get a divorce, so that Pauline could serve.   Both were devout Catholics.   This was difficult to say the least, not only for each other, but the entire family.

Pauline enlisted in the Army on August 12, 1942, just 7 days after Dan.   She was sent to Europe to fight the Germans and served till the end of the war, mustering out December 5th, 1945 about a month after Dan.  By the way, Pauline was also 50% German; her mother being a naturalized US citizen but was born in Binsfeld Germany.

To understand a little bit more about how things were during this time, I am fortunate to have a photo copied letter from Pauline to her sister, Margie Wood, and the family.  It was written on September 1, 1944, "somewhere in France".  She writes:
"Hi Folks, When I get home Ill tell you all about it and its interesting stuff - but just can't be done on paper.   We get good food - live in tents and wash in the stream nearby so thats our daily routine.  We are now waiting to move up to the front.  I surely hope it will be soon too.   Haven't had any mail for two weeks and believe me it will surely be welcome when it does come.  In case you never know what to send & would like to send just make up a little kit of - bobby pins, drene shampoo, ink - soap - kleenex toilet paper, and cold cream - small amount - a little soap here can be traded for a bottle of champagne its so precious.

How are the children.  I'll sure be glad to come home.   It gets awful lonesome here but there are some happy times believe it or not.   Write every week be sure.  Lots of Love & kisses.  Pauline"
In December, just 3 months after this letter, Pauline was at the front lines of what became known as "The Battle of the Bulge", which lasted from December 16, 1944 – January 25, 1945 and was "the bloodiest battle that U.S. forces experienced in World War II; the 19,000 American dead were unsurpassed by those of any other engagement." (source: wiki).

As a nurse, Pauline would have tended to the injured and dying, in the freezing winter.  

After both returned from serving their country, they remarried, and decided to adopt a baby girl.   They both wanted to return back to "normal" life and it was not often that the events from WWII were discussed.    

We all owe a debt to the many families who have given of themselves to ensure our future is filled with freedom, and liberty.  I am very grateful to both Dan and Pauline for their sacrifice as well as the many others who served.

With reverence
Your cousin

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this!