Every day starts a new story, and these represent the daily duty of real military life. Those stories always have some rare nugget of life. Near the end of 2013 we interviewed three men who fit that category. All three were corporals.
I knew Cpl. Ed Smith through the Men’s Lenten breakfasts; a really nice guy. Ed was a Park Place boy. Not the high rent property of Monopoly fame, but every veteran we’ve interviewed from there has rich memories of their childhood. Living close to Anderson (College) I asked if he ever played there. Ed said he did and got into trouble one day sliding down the tube fire escape at Old Main. Ed worked at Best Ever Dairy. He painted a nice picture of Bob Frazier who managed their ice cream store and went on to found his icon Dairy Maid.
Cpl. Smith joined the Marines in 1954 and fought the battle of Yorktown. In the 1950s Yorktown was a benign quiet old base that happened to house an underground missile site. Talk about ground zero!
Cpl. Paul Malone was the second of the three corporals. He had great stories of his grandpa’s farm in Bowbells, N.D., and his homesick mother who had to leave Bowbells for her husband who was from Altoona, Pa. Paul served a post in Korea that monitored our communications network to make sure our guys weren’t getting sloppy and letting out information that the enemy could use against us. When Paul’s unit arrived in Korea they were driven to the boonies and told to “dig in.” Paul explained that “We were lovers not fighters” so no one dug very fast or deep. That night they were welcomed to Korea by a mortar barrage during which they learned to dig deeper and faster.
Paul is the only man I know who has had a Secret Service hand in his chest. President Eisenhower was the speaker at Paul’s Penn State commencement. After the ceremony Paul ran across campus to get his actual diploma and was soundly stopped by the Secret Service as Ike drove past and gave him a personal wave. Paul is one of the nicest guys I know; the type you always look forward to seeing. He has driven thousands of miles to take children to Shriners Hospitals.
The third corporal was Max Pettigrew, farmer, millwright, and a man who left his mark with his hands and innovation. I loved watching his daughter and grandson. It was plain that they deeply love and revere the man. Max served in Korea as an MP. While not in the front lines, he was in plenty of danger as he traveled the roads. Max told us a funny story of how the Army MPs made excuses to patrol the Marine camp where they had better food. That’s the thing about Max. He’s funny, innovative, and down-to-earth; the kind of guy who makes you forget all of that stuff on the news. Three refreshing stories.
Don McAllister directs the National Veteran’s Historical Archive. His column appears the second Sunday of each month. He can be reached at email@example.com and www.nvharchive.org.