Roger Woodbury was a teacher in Rhode Island when he realized that some of his students would soon be eligible for the draft. Asking himself “Why am I exempt,” Woodbury entered the Air Force in 1968. He would become a squadron weapons controller in Massachusetts and in Thailand. After leaving active service in 1973, Woodbury would eventually join the U.S. Air National Guard in Worcester, leaving in 1989 with the rank of major.
Jim Ramsey joined the Naval ROTC just after enrolling at Cornell University in 1961. After graduating in 1965, he received his ensign’s commission and began working with the Naval Construction Battalion (SeaBees) as an administration officer. His duty stations included Long Beach, Calif., Gulfport, Miss. (including two tours of Vietnam) and San Diego. While in Vietnam, Ramsey’s units worked on projects near Da Nang and Dong Ha.
“Doc” Blaney joined the Army on his 18th birthday in 1943. Trained as a medic and a paratrooper, he parachuted near Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion at Normandy; he would spend the next six days treating the wounded in an old chapel. He was also at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war, he joined the Air Force, and served during the Korean War in photo intelligence.
Wade Tambor joined the Navy in 1955, and was sent to Officers Candidates School in Newport, R.I. After earning his ensign’s commission, Tambor was sent to Adak in the Aleutian Islands for his first duty station. There, Tambor handled administrative duties. Tambor would also serve in San Francisco and the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. He would leave active service in 1958 with the rank of lieutenant.
Thomas Dahill joined the Army Air Corps in 1943, shortly after graduating from Arlington High School. He eventually became a navigator on a B-24, and was sent to the Philippines and New Guinea. He would fly 45 missions, including one that would be the longest trip ever made by a B-24.
Born and raised in South Boston, Bill Martin was drafted into the Navy in 1966 despite poor eyesight. Because he was a college graduate, he was sent to Officer Candidates School in Newport, R.I. Trained as a supply officer, Martin would serve in active duty and the Reserves for 30 years; he would see action off the coast of Vietnam and take part in Desert Storm. He retired from the Navy in 1997 with the rank of captain. As of this interview in 2019, Martin is the Veterans Services Officer for Kingston, Mass.
James Martin had just become a teacher in the Boston Public Schools when he joined the Marines in early 1967. He would be sent to Officers Candidates School in Quantico, Va.; he would receive further training in infantry and communications before he was sent to Vietnam. He would serve with the 11th Marines in a variety of duties, from signal officer to bartender.
“Pat” Flynn joined the Army in 1943, wanting to join the 10th Mountain Division as a skier. Instead, he was trained for combat infantry. He served with the 157th Infantry Regiment, and saw action in Italy and France. After the war, he stayed a civilian for about a year before rejoining the Army for another 20 years. Flynn would see action in Korea with the 9th Infantry Regiment, and in Vietnam as part of the Special Forces.
Interview conducted by James Ramsey
Margie Labedz was the daughter of a World War I veteran who did her part in WWII as a member of the Victory Troubadours, a group of singers and dancers who entertained at local veterans’ hospitals. She also remembered other activities on the homefront such as rationing and air raid wardens. Her future husband, as well as her brothers and her two sons, have served in the military. Labedz is a lifetime member of the VFW Auxiliary.
Kevin Strel left a halfway house in New York City at the age of 17 to join the Army. Trained as a medic, Strel would be sent to Korea as part of the 9th Infantry Regiment. For the next year, he would rotate between patrolling the DMZ and being on base treating personnel and Korean civilians. He would finish his three-year enlistment at Fort Dix and Fort Devens.