Whether at present or in years long past, so many of us are families of veterans. Their commitment and service is a legacy to succeeding generations on true values in life – honoring your country, as well as your family. This is one story of many repeated over time, as families send sons and daughters to peacetime duty or periods of war and conflict.
My Father’s Family History of Veterans
John, the oldest, had never considered the military as a career but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed that viewpoint and he enlisted in the Navy the following morning. LTJG McElroy would serve as a PT boat commander, Squadron Ron 9, the Solomon Islands of the South Pacific, and considered selection for such hazardous duty to be an honor. Their mission would be threefold: prevent the Japanese Navy and Tokyo Express from resupplying island strongholds in the area, prevent the escape of Japanese forces and their concentrated movement between the islands, and help move Marine-strike forces behind enemy lines. Ron 9 would serve more combat patrols than any other PT squadron in the Solomons and some nights returned to base multiple times for ammunition in strikes against Japanese destroyers and enemy barges.
LTJG John McElroy would be awarded a Silver Star for repeated action against Japanese forces while serving as Captain of a PT boat squadron in the Solomon Islands area, July, 1943.
Pat, the youngest of the sons, had just turned 17 when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced. Following in the steps of his older brothers, he would enlist and serve as a control tower and radar operator in the Army Air Corps.
This family was among the fortunate, for the four sons who left for war would all return. So many do not. My father’s closest childhood friend, an Army First Lieutenant with the 135th Infantry Regiment in Italy, would die on Christmas Eve, 1944 at the age of 26. He was the only son in a family of five children.
As we remember not only our own veterans but the history of all who serve, we pay tribute to the monumental contribution provided by their commitment and sacrifice on our behalf. Their sense of duty continues to preserve our past, safeguard our present, and sustain our future.
“A nation reveals itself not only in the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
-John F. Kennedy