Focus on the Family 

Now that summer is nearing its end and the kids are back in school, it’s time to focus on the family. Service members greatly rely on the support that they receive from their loved ones. This month, we will take a look at a few resources available to military families. 

According to the Military Child Education Coalition, “Military children generally move six to nine times during their K-12 school years. Many make multiple moves during high school years alone, some even during their senior year.  

        MCEC tries to make tough transitions easier on these kids. This organization develops information to support the transitioning military student. They maintain an alliance of school districts for communication and networking. MCEC examines technologies (teleconferencing, internet, etc.) and develops procedures to support information sharing between militaryimpacted school districts. They also assess sources of funding to support the alliance. For information on Military Child Education Coalition, visit http://www.militarychild.org/about-us. 

        Operation: Love Reunited is a veteran-focused organization that provides free professional photography sessions and photo gifts to military families dealing with a deployment. It was founded in August of 2006 by Colorado photographer Tonee Lawrence and was approved for its 501(c)3 status in February 2009. Its mission is to boost the morale of deployed service members through photography.  The good news is they have photographers located worldwide.   

        OpLove helps those long months go by a little faster by capturing the moments that you will remember and always treasure. It’s art. It’s love. It’s all made possible by artists wanting to give something back to those who make our country what it is and ask for nothing in return but for these brave men and women to come back home. Their profound motto is – “Giving back to those who want nothing more than to come home.”  In addition, they also offer the OpLove Scholarship Fund and the Sgt. Soto Memorial Fund (for those killed in action). For further details, visit http://www.oplove.org/. 

        Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program’s mission is to assist, collaborate and partner with services and agencies at the lowest level possible to provide for service members. Veterans and their family members benefit from informational events and activities, referrals, and proactive outreach services throughout the phases of deployment or mobilization. The program provides quality joint deployment support and reintegration services to all service members and their families effectively, efficiently and as close to their homes as possible, ensuring they are informed and self-sufficient, thus enabling them to sustain the rigors associated with deployment or mobilization. For more information, visit http://pafamiliesinc.org/military-families/support/yellow-ribbon-reintegration-program. 

By: Paula Green 

Bob Taylor World War II Historian and Korean War Veteran


By Paula Green

When school students learn about World War II, they’re educated on the major events such Pearl Harbor and Normandy. Eighty-six year old, Bob Taylor did not serve in the big war, rather, he lived through it as an elementary school student. Bob is a volunteer with the Heinz History Center. He talks with school-age kids in his spare time and educates them on what life was like growing up during World War II.

Today, we can look up information on the web or watch the news. “Back when I was growing up, every night my family and I would listen to the radio; that’s how we got our World War II news. So WWII can be defined as the good against the bad,” Bob said.
“Many items were in short supply due to the war, so we had to ration. We had ration books. American were issued red stamps and blue stamps. You could purchase meats and dairy each month with the red stamps, and with the blue ones, you could buy canned, dried and bottled items. Every Friday, we had Stamp Day. We bought saving bonds, and we raised the Minute Man flag,” said Bob.
“We had a Victory Garden which we planted. That is what we mainly ate. We dined on homemade soups and fresh baked bread. We planted vegetables, and it was my job to clean the garden. I had to get rid of the slugs, and I also had to tidy up the chicken coops, which was a dirty job,” said Bob.
“I had a cousin who served in World War I, and he worked at Fort Belvoir in Virginia. He used to send me Dubble Bubble chewing gum. I was a popular guy. You couldn’t get that during the war. One piece of chewing gum lasted five or six days,” Bob said.
“One way we found to raise money was to have a scrap sale. We collected old cans and newspapers and then sold them. We also practiced air raids. The government made people believe that they were part of the war,” Bob added.
World War II ended in 1945, and several years later Bob joined the Korean War effort. He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was a Specialist 4th Class. Bob trained in Massachusetts, was sent to Korea, and finished his Army career at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Bob enrolled at California University where he studied education. He obtained his master’s at Slippery Rock University. Bob taught history for three years at Elizabeth-Forward. In 1962, he began teaching at Avonworth High School where he remained for 30 years until his retirement in 1992.
Bob grew up in Frank, Pennsylvania, near McKeesport. He currently resides in Beaver County with his wife, Linda McCormick. Northern Connection salutes Bob for his service during the Korean War and his dedication to enlightening students on World War II. n

Julia Parsons

By Paula Green 

       Patriotism is prevalent in July since we commemorate the birthday of our nation. This month, we’ll introduce you to a local woman who did her patriotic duty and served in the Navy during World War II. Julia Parsons of Forest Hills, who turned 100 on March 2, held a vital position. 

      Julia was 21 years old when she graduated from Carnegie Tech. She was searching for a job when she read about the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). She volunteered for this military unit and was sent to the Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School at Smith College. “I went unknowing to D.C. and was thrilled to land in a great job,” Julia said.       

      Since Julia took two years of German in high school, she was placed in a sector to decipher enemy codes. Julia ended up earning the rank of LTJG (Lieutenant junior grade). 

      She was assigned to work on one of the first computers called the “Bombe.” Julia’s job was of critical importance. “We had to decode radio traffic messages that were sent from German U-Boats. There were numerous operative messages that were transmitted daily; we used an Enigma machine for the decoding process,” said Julia.  

       Essential operations, such as decoding and trying to stay one step ahead of the Germans, played a pivotal role in helping the Allies win the war. “I loved my job! I liked the uniforms, the work was exciting, and I enjoyed being in Washington. It was such a satisfying time in my life,” Julia said. 

      While Julia was in the service, she met her husband, Donald, who was serving in the Army. Even though he was in the military as well, Julia never discussed her classified information with him or anyone else. “The Enigma was declassified in the 60s. I did not know that until I visited the NSA (National Security Agency) Museum in the late 90s. I saw the Enigma machines on display, and then I told my husband about it,” noted Julia. 

       When the war ended in 1945, Julia found herself out of a top-secret position and right back into the kitchen. She and Donald eventually ended up back in Pittsburgh, where they had three children, Bruce, Margaret, and Barbara. Julia is a grandmother and a great-grandmother. She enjoyed staying in touch with others. 

        Julia is a member of the Veterans Breakfast Club (VBC) of Pittsburgh, a nonprofit dedicated to sharing veteran’s stories. The pandemic did not stop Julia or her fellow members from sharing their stories. VBC had Zoom calls which Julia attended and kept up with the accounts from other veterans. Northern Connection magazine salutes Julia Parsons for her years of naval service during World War II. 

Reflecting Upon the Bay of Pigs 

By Paula Green 

            April 17 will mark the 60th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs invasion. This attempted military coup d’état was not successful, but rather a disastrous operation. The stage was set in January 1959 when Fidel Castro seized power in Cuba with a revolution. Castro was no friend to the United States since he attacked U.S. companies and interests. To further complicate matters, Cuba was allying itself with the Soviet Union. This led U.S. officials to believe that Cuba was a threat to our interests in the Western Hemisphere. 

         In 1961, two years after Castro’s regime began, the United States, under the CIA’s (Central Intelligence Agency) guidance and President John Kennedy’s orders, decided to invade Cuba. As part of the Cold War plan and in an attempt to topple Castro, the CIA trained Cuban exiles in guerilla warfare. Unfortunately, word got out and Castro was enlightened on the planned invasion.  

         The original plan was to have planes fly over and destroy the Cuban Air Force, but the U.S. refrained from providing necessary air support Many U.S. paratroopers landed in the wrong places and some even ended up in the swamps. Some of the Cuban planes were damaged due to the early airstrike, but a few remained and attacked the invaders. 

        The ground attack crumbled as well. The landing force that landed at the Bay of Pigs was met with unexpected counterattacks from Castro’s military. Over 100 of the attackers were killed, and more than 1,100 were captured. The failed invasion heightened Cold War tensions between Cuba’s political ally, Soviet Russia, and the Kennedy administration. The following year, the Russians brazenly installed nuclear missiles in Cuba resulting in the Cuban Missile Crisis. President Kennedy tried to redeem himself by publicly accepting blame for the attack and its subsequent failure, but the botched mission left the young president looking vulnerable and indecisive. 

 Sources:  https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-bay-of-pigs-invasion-begins, https://www.ducksters.com/history/cold_war/bay_of_pigs.php, https://www.historyplace.com/specials/calendar/april.htm 

 

Marching into the US Marine Corps 245th Anniversary


“Some people spend their lives wondering if they made a difference.  Marines don’t have that problem.”
~Ronald Reagan

This year, three branches of the U.S. armed services have celebrated their 245th anniversary.  The USMC was created in 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized Marines’ battalions to serve aboard navy vessels as sharpshooters and boarding parties.
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