Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day Remembrances

Veterans Day, Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, National Day, Day of Peace.  This day has many names the world over, but they all commemorate that eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

Last year this day became even more significant to me when I learned exactly where my grandfathers were on November 11, 1918.  I share here the stories of three Veterans closest to me.  Many of our loved ones have served.  Please feel free to leave a comment and share your remembrances with us. If you have pictures you would like to have posted as well, please let me know. 

John Osborne Reed, my paternal grandfather, was a Carpenter's Mate 1st Class in the United States Naval Reserve Forces.

My father tells me that in November, 1918, Osborne was training at Parris Island in the Navy, preparing to be shipped to war.  For some reason Osborne spent the night of November 10 in Port Royal.  He learned early the next morning of the Armistice.  He also learned that the phone lines were down to Parris Island.  As my dad tells it, my granddaddy rushed across the bridge and was the first one to proclaim the good news to his comrades. 

Osborne Reed is the young man to the left.  This snapshot was taken at Parris Island. 

After the war, Osborne Reed resumed his studies at the University of South Carolina.  He soon met Carrie Belle Strickland, a young nurse working in the clinic there.  Carrie was from the Bull Swamp section of Lexington County near Swansea.  They were married in 1922.

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Oswell Boyce McLeod, my maternal grandfather, was drafted into the Army in 1917.  He had graduated from the University of South Carolina and was teaching school.  In her letters, his mother Ellen Irene Jones McLeod begged him to try to get a deferment for health reasons.   

She had lost her youngest son Aubrey (pictured to the right) on April 28, 1917 to the flu epidemic.  He had been in the Army, too.

An excerpt from one of her letters (edited for clarity) dated May 9, 1917:

“I hope you won’t be called off in the war, Boyce . . . A blank came here for you to fill out yesterday, and mama has been scared ever since,  afraid you would have to go to the war.  So you see your Dr. and try to get every thing right if you are called on so you want have to go.  Boyce, you can say you can’t work one day long on your feet.  The only way you can work to support your self is to sit down an teach school about half of your time.  You have been operated on twice an will have to have another operation at any time.
    “Boyce, Lemot Bains got out of going to the war on account of his health, and he can plow.  You know you could not work one day in the field.
    “Boyce, do see your Doctor and do everything in your power that can be done.  Dear Boyce, write soon. . . Do attend to this at once.  Go see your Dr at once.  Don’t wait for tomorrow.  Do it at once.” 

As required, Boyce registered with the draft on June 5, 1917.  In October, he received this card from the War Department.

Here is a closeup of the orders (click to enlarge):
Boyce reported as required and boarded the train for the newly created Camp Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina.

While he was in Columbia, he married Miss Mary Clifton Duke from Blythewood, South Carolina, on February 16, 1918.  By July, Boyce was on his way to France.   

This is a postcard Boyce sent to Mary when he was on his way to Europe.  (Click to enlarge.)

Boyce was a PFC in the 318th Machine Gun Battalion of the 81st National Army Division.  On November 10, the 81st Division heard rumors of an armistice, but had no confirmation.  On the morning of the eleventh, the battle continued.  Orders came for cease-fire at 11:00 AM sharp.  Suddenly, all firing stopped.  Granddaddy spoke in years later of the silence that morning - eerie and glorious at the same time.  The war was over! 

The 81st stayed in the area until they returned home in June 1919.  Granddaddy even had opportunity to teach in France. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Certainly no armed forces holiday passes without remembrance of the service to our country of my own brother John.

John Osborne Reed, III, was the oldest son of Joe and Mary Duke Reed.  He enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1966 during the height of the VietNam War.  He was in VietNam in 1967-68.  His Navy tour ended in 1970.  While in Nam, John was drenched twice with Agent Orange on the LST where he served carrying supplies up and down the river.

John in VietNam

After discharge from the Navy, John returned to the University of South Carolina, married, and had two children.  He was a masterful carpenter, and his lifelong  favorite pastime was his beloved fishing.

John battled the ill effects of Agent Orange for the rest of his life.  He lost that battle on June 3, 2004, when he died of lung cancer directly linked to his exposure to Agent Orange. He is buried in Beaufort National Cemetery in Beaufort, South Carolina. 


  1. Great tributes Marilyn. I had a classmate who died about 30 years after returning from Vietnam and his family and friends attributed his health struggles to Agent Orange as well. However, I don't believe they ever got the military to acknowledge Agent Orange as the cause.

  2. This was interesting to read. Good research.
    I never realized Jay looked so much like his father.