Since discovering my passion for genealogy, I have had to enlist the help of my Aunts, Second Cousins, siblings and even my parents. I even met relatives along the way. This Christmas while visiting my sister, my dad brought me a copy of his military records that I had encouraged him to send off for. It was a long arduous process with the National Archives, but in the end, he was successful. I have also sent off requests for my Dad’s father, Fred Whitehead and his grandfather Walter Everett Whitehead. I have not had success as of yet. But who knows, time will tell.
My dad signed his enlistment papers on June 25, 1954, with the oath to pledge 3 years in service of his country, he was 17 years old. As I have discussed before, my father grew up on the South Side of Chicago in the early 1950’s. As such, he was a city kid. He took public transportation to and from school. Probably only saw farm animals during any summer visits to Georgia. He learned to drive in the military. His father, Fred, had passed away in 1950 when Larry was only thirteen years old. He became the man of the house at such an early age. He had a part-time job, albeit it was delivering beer and liquor in the neighborhood. His eldest sister was already out of the house. I am not sure about Annette, she went to Nursing School.
My father grew up listening to the stories of the WWII Marine veterans in his neighborhood. I do not think there was ever a doubt that he would enlist in the Marines. In the papers he had to sign, he had to essentially denounce a multitude of organizations that the United States Government thought were Fascist, Communistic and other groups subversive in nature.
According to his records, he always earned high marks. He entered service as a Private, then made Private First Class, Corporal and then Sergeant. He completed his Non-Commissioned Officer School with the highest marks, he was listed as first out of 35 candidates. Way to go, Dad!
Dad has told me of the story whereby he became a VFW (Veteran of Foreign War). A truce was signed on the 27th day of July 1953. However, there were still some details that needed to be worked out. The US Government decided to send some troops in the direction of the war in hopes that it would speed things up. So, my Dad and his unit boarded the AKA 112 Tulari on 29 October 1956. The USS Tulari was a Class Attack Cargo Ship. Apparently, negotiations improved as he returned five days later.
He mustered out of the Marines on 24 June 1957 as a Sergeant. My father has always said that the military was the best thing for him as it instilled in him the discipline he did not have. Once he was released from the military, he went to college on the GI Bill. And the rest they say is history.