Jeremiah French, Sr. my fourth-great-grandfather on my mother’s side of the family, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He served in the New Jersey Militia. Not much more is known about Jeremiah except that, after the war that founded our nation, he moved west to the little community Scipio on the Ohio-Indiana border, where he passed away in 1834. My family must have been very proud of Private Jeremiah French, because his surname “French” became the middle name of many of his descendants all the way into the 20th Century. I never understood why so many in my family were honored by the name French (he certainly wasn’t wealthy, and neither famous or infamous). But when I discovered Jeremiah was a Revolutionary War veteran, I think I discovered the reason for his name being honored. Wow!
Various of my uncles and cousins served in the war the War of 1812, and on the Union side of the Civil War, and in the Spanish-American War, and later World War I and II.
I was raised by my granddad John Frederick Lynn, a veteran of World War I. He is buried at the Riverside National Cemetery, California. His rank (now obsolete) was “Field Clerk,” which I’m told was in the chain-of-command between a Warrant Officer and Second Lieutenant. He left the Army after World War I. He tried to re-up in the military when World War II came along, but at age 51 the Army told him he was too old. I think the Army made a big mistake. My Granddad Lynn repeatedly told me he should have remained in the Army after World War I. I remembered that during irritations in my own military career, and did remain on active duty.
My mother, Doris Bertha Lynn was also a US Army veteran, and also buried at Riverside National Cemetery. She enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) in August 1943, which later became the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). In those days, none of the military was co-ed. After basic training at Ft. Oglethorpe in Georgia, my mother shipped overseas to Casablanca, and then to Bari, Italy where she served as a telephone/telegraph operator with the 15th Air Force. The Nazis were still bombing Italy when she was there. She told me a friend took her up for an unauthorized ride in a P-38 fighter - and they had to evade unexpected German fighter planes before they could return to base and land. She separated from the Army Air Corps as a Staff Sergeant in 1946.
I proudly followed in the military footsteps of my family. Enlisted in the Air Force in 1951. Got my commission in 1953. Served in Vietnam. Retired from the Air Force in 1976. Lots of “adventures.” My military service set the foundation for about everything else I’ve ever done.
My granddaughter Tiffany Marie Aab is a United States Navy veteran. She served aboard ship, and in Guam. My grandson Josh Niewiadomski is a member of the Utah Army National Guard. With my 19 grandkids, they’ll likely by more future veterans. I hope so. It’s an honor to be a veteran.
So, this Memorial Day 2009, I honor and salute all veterans. I’m proud I have so many military veterans in my family.
Photos: top Field Clerk John F. Lynn; Corporal Doris Lynn. Bottom: Army Guardsman John Niewiadomski