DUTY – Sending Sons Off To War

On this Memorial Day, I would like to dedicate my post to Alfred Duryee Guion, my Grandfather, who took very seriously his DUTY to to send all five of his sons off to make their contribution to the American effort to end World War II.

Alfred Duryee Guion

Alfred Duryee Guion

Daniel Beck Guion

In January, 1942, his second oldest, Dan, writes from Anchorage, Alaska:

Uncle Sam feels he needs me to save the world for Roosevelt… When I left Anchorage I made several promises to keep the boys posted about how I made out with the Army….I tried valiantly but the Anchorage draft board tried harder, so into the Army I go, perhaps to fertilize some exotic orchid in the jungles of Sumatra, or fill out the lean feathers of some scrawny African buzzard…. saving America, of course, from the Japs, the Huns and the Wops, every one of whom has only one aim in life… to make every U.S. citizen a slave.

Later that month, my grandfather writes:

Every week the war gets closer to home. Last Wednesday, Lad received notice of reclassification to A-1….And this of course is Dan’s last

Alfred Peabody Guion

Alfred Peabody Guion

week home. He leaves Wednesday from Shelton to begin working for Uncle Sam and that, at present, is the extent of our knowledge on the subject.

Four months later he writes:

Last Wednesday, Lad woke me up a little before 5 am and after a hasty breakfast we started off in my car to the railroad station in Derby from which I saw my engineer son off to the Army camp. This time, however, there was much more of a crowd, the station yard being pretty well filled with cars. I learned later there were about 80 men in the group…We learned that Lad had been appointed a leader and would probably be busy so I said goodbye as the train pulled into the station. I have not heard from him since but the plan was for the boys to go to Hartford for their final physical examination then to Camp Devens and parts unknown.

The war continued and in February, 1943 in a letter to Lad my grandfather writes:

?????????????????????You will recall, as will Dan also, that early morning trip to the Derby railroad station and my dutifully surrendering into Uncle Sam’s care, my two oldest boys. Well, that performance was repeated again with Dick as the sacrificial lamb. Dick and Dave (the youngest) had both set alarm clocks, heard them go off and immediately went back to sleep. At 10 to five, conscientious Dad, with the matter weighing on his subconscious mind, awoke, roused the two slackers, had a hasty breakfast and started on our way by bright moonlight at about 5:15. We arrived at the station at about 5:45 and most of the boys were already on the train. Unlike your case, Dick had been granted a 9-day leave so after going through the routine at Hartford, he returned last night …and does not have to go to report until next Monday.

Dave dropped out of high school after turning 18 and enlisted. In January, 1944, my grandfather writes:DPG - with Zeke holding Butch

Dear, Lad, Dan and Dick, It is only the three of you I am writing to today but it won’t be long now before Dave will be added to the list.
Dave goes Saturday, and following my usual custom which has happened as many times now it has almost developed into a habit, I shall deliver my youngest at the well-known railroad station in Derby to swell the ranks of Uncle Sam’s army.

Although Ced actually missed being drafted by one day (That is another story), he served the military as a civilian. The military took over the airfield he was working at in Alaska and he repaired planes, went out to the tundra to repair and bring back downed airplanes and, as a bush pilot, flew supplies all over Alaska.

Dan, as a Surveyor and Civil Engineer, was in London and Paris before D-Day and was in Normandy shortly after.

Lad, a large machine Mechanic, trained mechanics for the Army and eventually was sent to France. On his way to Okinawa, Hiroshima was bombed and his ship was diverted to New York. (This is another story.)

Dick served in Brazil as an interpreter and liaison to the local population.

Dave, with a number of skills, was sent to Okinawa and then Manila.

Grandpa was fortunate that all his sons came home from the War, but today, I honor him and all the families who sent sons and daughters to aid in the War To End All Wars. Their sacrifices are immeasurable.

9 thoughts on “DUTY – Sending Sons Off To War

  1. Arla says:

    Judy, I love this tribute to our Dad’s and uncles and also to Grandpa. Certainly the sacrifice of all the sons and daughters and the families are deeply appreciated, and so many families didn’t have theirs return home. We are very blessed that ours did.

  2. Gallivanta says:

    A worthy tribute; I so admire the way your grandfather just quietly got on with the job at hand…sons to be delivered. No fuss, but pragmatic acceptance and a trust that they would be cared for by Uncle Sam.

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Gallivanta – He knew he didn’t have a choice and to get angry or to fight it would be futile. That’s just the way most people thought back then.

  3. […] Source: DUTY – Sending Sons Off To War […]

  4. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Grandpa was fortunate that all his sons came home from the War, but today, I honor him and all the families who sent sons and daughters to aid in the War To End All Wars. Their sacrifices are immeasurable.

    I am sure he lived everyday in fear he would get a telegram from the War Department…

    • jaggh53163 says:

      Pierre – Grandpa tried not to dwell on that, but occasionally, he mentions the fact that it has been ____ days or weeks since he’;s heard from one of his sons. It had to be difficult to sleep and keep up a cheerful front. The last letter I have in this series was mailed on Nov. 11, 1946 and came from Ced announcing that he would be coming home because if he stayed in Alaska and made any more money, the tax hit would be too much. Grandpa must have been thoroughly pleased, since he had been writing letters every week since Jan. 4, 1939.

      • Pierre Lagacé says:

        I like those little stories about ordinary people. The greatest gift is the love of a father or a grandfather… mother and grandmother too of course.

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