Our family’s men after the colonial days became fighters in the Revolutionary, Civil, 1812, and yes, even the Indian Wars between 1850-1890).
My maternal great-grandfather, John Carpenter Ford, was born January 15, 1864, (a Capricorn like myself), in Wake County, North Carolina (a Confederate state) in the midst of the American Civil War. According to his military records, he served in Company D of the Army’s 17th Infantry Regiment. Reviewing the timeline of Indian Wars and the involvements of the 17th Infantry, his enlistment would have placed him in 1890 in the midst of the Apache Indian War in Arizona and New Mexico, and at the Sioux Indian disturbances in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, November 1890 – January 1891.
Next came World War I, the great depression which I’ve written about in earlier posts and World War II where some of our family members fought, were injured or killed while fighting for their country. By the end of the war, shell shock had entered the mainstream vocabulary, covering myriad symptoms including paralysis, blindness, tremors, nightmares and anxiety. Many service members who were said to be suffering shell shock probably had what we would today identify as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Looking back at my great-grandfather’s demeanor, I would say he suffered from PTSD. He was seldom very happy, and often demanded quiet or total silence, especially from young children. In fact, he moved out of his home and into the “Old Soldier’s Home,” in Washington, DC, leaving his wife to live with my grandfather Robert Gideon Ford and his family. Grandpop, as we called him, visited on weekends only until his death in 1961 at age 97. He was the next to last survivor of those men who fought in the Indian Wars.
The Invasion of Italy was fought September 3-16, 1943, during World War II (1939-1945). My maternal Uncle John Austin Ford was there having enlisted in the U.S. Army immediately following high school graduation. He was only 19. During the course of the invasion, Allied forces sustained 2,009 killed, 7,050 wounded, and 3,501 missing while German casualties numbered around 3,500. My uncle John was one of those wounded. Unfortunately, he lost his left eye. Following his injuries, he was awarded the Bronze Star, and Purple Heart Medals for his valor during the battle.
My paternal great-uncle Seaman First Class Frank Embrey Boling gave his life fighting in the Pacific theater aboard the USS Johnston Destroyer. His ship was overcome by Japanese destroyers and sunk on October 25, 1944. He was posthumously awarded the exceedingly rare Purple Heart Medal.
My father Frank Burton Boling served in the Navy just after WWII and my husband, Bob Dickinson, served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam era. Two of our Dickinson grandsons continue to serve in the Air Force.
So on this Veteran’s Day, let’s honor all of those who have so diligently protected their families and country from external hostilities. I love them all and thank you for your service!