Ronald Cole was drafted into the Army in 1968. Trained in power generation repair, he was sent to West Germany. After six months, he was transferred to Vietnam, where he became the crew chief of a Huey helicopter. On missions, he would man a .30-caliber machine gun. He left the Army in late 1969, and joined the Army National Guard. He returned to active duty because “he couldn’t find work,” and served in West Germany and Korea to oversee maintenance of power generators. He was discharged in 1983 with the rank of sergeant.
“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.
“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
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.
Raffael deGruttola enlisted in the Army in 1953, shortly after graduating from Somerville High School. Because of his talents as a musician, he earned a spot in the 18th U.S. Army Band in Fort Devens. He would also earn a spot in the 1st U.S. Army Band in New York City, as well as attending the Naval School of Music Conservatory in Washington, D.C.
James Nicholl Jr. joined the Navy in 1944 to honor his father and history teacher. He would serve on several vessels, including an armed cargo vessel and mine sweeper, in Scotland, Russia and the North Atlantic. Nicholl would also serve during the Korean War.
U.S. Navy WAVES, (1944-45, 1950-53)
Marion Carpenter Sheridan grew up in Melrose, and enlisted in the Navy WAVES after she graduated from Melrose High School in 1943. She served from 1944-45, and again during the Korean War, as a switchboard operator in California and New York.
U.S. Army, 1954-57
David Gaulin entered the U.S. Army in 1954 as a way to stay out of jail. He trained as a tank driver, and was stationed in Furth in West Germany. When he was sent to the border at Czechoslovakia, he helped several civilians fleeing the Soviets. While he was heading back to the United States, Gaulin witnessed the sinking of the Andrea Doria.
Part IV: Interview discussing Mr. Ray’s service as an artillery officer during the Korean War, and teaching law at West Point.
Ted Zicko was born and raised in Natick. As a child growing up during World War II, he remembered rationing and seeing Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour at the Common during a bond drive. After the Korean War started, he enlisted with the U.S Air Force and spent four years in Intelligence as a linguist (Albanian language), forward observer and photo interpreter. He is a recipient of presidential citations from the United States and the Republic of Korea.