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Remembering Uncle Alf

I recently read a story that reminded me of my favorite uncle,Uncle Alf(Alfred) My Dad,Harry Sr.,came from a family of 4 siblings my Dad,my Uncles Alfred and Howard and Aunt Helen. My Dad and Uncle Howard were drafted in the spring of 1943. My Dad went to the Medical Corps and served as a Combat Medic in France and then later as a Medic in a POW hospital treating wounded German prisoners Uncle Howard was drafted into the Army Air Corps as an Engineer and helped construct and maintain an airstrip somewhere in France My Uncle Alf,however,enlisted in the Marine Corps in late 1942 and after training was assigned to the 2nd Division as a Jeep Ambulance Driver and was involved in the invasion of Saipan. During the battle and, on the way back from the front with some wounded Marines he got lost and, started driving back towards the battle and right into the shelling. He was hit with some fragments in his left arm and leg but eventually found his way back to the Field Hospital with the wounded Marines For his action he was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart all because he got lost. The story does not end there. Uncle Alf took some razing for this incident, even though heroic, was given the handle of “Wrong Way ” so after the war when someone would ask about his service he tended to, lets just say overstate his heroics or, as my Dad would say “Tell a Whopper” One time he was a Marine “Raider” sometimes he was even a member of a “Special Demolition Team” that would sneak behind enemy lines. My Dad and Uncle Howard knew the truth but that never stopped Uncle Alf. I loved hearing his stories. Our weekend fishing trips were always fun. Finally, when I was about 14 years old my Dad told me the true story but he was still a hero to me and, part of the reason I enlisted in the “Corps” My Uncle Alf did not live to witness this. He was killed in a mining accident in late 1965. He was a good man and we all loved him even if he told “Whoppers”.



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A Combat vet - April 23, 2020

To bad your uncle Alf had to lie about his time in the Marine Corp. Takes away from us who really did what your uncle had to lie about.

‘Stoney’ Brook - April 23, 2020

Johnny, my grandpa served in the Marine Corps from 1910 to 1914. He then joined the Army in 1914 because ‘nothing was going on’ in the Marines and he hated being on ships. As a Texas ranch hand he could ride and shoot, so in 1916 he went to Mexico with General Pershing to chase Pancho Villa. He then went to France in 1918, afterwards saying “I’d rather have fought with my old Marine unit than those Doggies. Marines were tough combat soldiers,” After WWI, he transfered to the Army Air Corps and retired in 1940 as a Master Sergeant … He is buried at Ft Sam Houston Cemetery, near the flagpole. He taught me to shoot (with a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun) and we spent hours watching close order drill at local military bases. As to Harry’s Dad, we always say “Never let the Truth get in the way of a good sea story” Semper Fi

Johnny Reyes Jr. - April 23, 2020

Enjoyed your story, Harry. Reminded me of my grandpa. Grandpa was drafted into the US Army for World War I. For the rest of his life, Grandpa made sure that everyone knew that he was a proud Army veteran. Grandma would some time tire of this and remind him that he spent the war pulling guard duty on the Panama Canal to avoid fighting the Hun. Grandpa would bristle but say nothing. Grandpa and Grandma rest under the serene live oak trees at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery. I have Grandpa’s Army ID disk next to my 60 year old USMC dog tag and his US burial flag. I miss them both every day.

Harry - April 23, 2020

I forgot that he was also on Tarawa during the war and remained on Saipan until the end of the war. Harry

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