Today as we remember and honor those who have proudly served their country in the armed services, I’d like to tell you a little about my maternal grandfather, Howard Hamilton Hanger, who served during World War II.
Howard was inducted into the Army on 26 December 1944 in Roanoke, Virginia, and honorably discharged on 19 January 1946 at Fort Meade in Maryland. He served in Company G 19th Infantry as a rifleman. During his service, he received the following decorations and citations:
This is the official description of his military occupation, “Rifleman: Loaded, aimed, and fired the M-1 rifle to destroy enemy personnel.”
The reason I know so many details about his military service in WWII is because I happen to have his original discharge papers. My grandfather kept them and when he died in 1986, my mother got them. When I became interested in my family’s history, she shared them with me.
In her collection is a piece of a ribbon, which after doing a little research, I was able to identify as the ribbon that would have been attached to his Good Conduct Medal. Unfortunately, we don’t know what happened to the medal.
She also had in her possession, a little lapel pin that says Overseas on it. I discovered that this pin is what was known as sweetheart jewelry, which was popular during WWII. Soldiers would give these pins to their loved ones at home as they headed off to war.
When my grandfather left to serve his country, he left behind his wife and three young children. I can only imagine how difficult this must have been for him and his family. I imagine my grandmother proudly wearing this little lapel pin in honor of him while he was away and anxiously awaiting his safe return.
I am thankful for his honorable service to this country and thankful that he returned safely to his family at the end of the war.
If you have ancestors who served in the armed forces, ask your family members if they have their service records. They will provide you with a wealth of information about their time in the armed forces. They can also provide important genealogical information such as date and place of birth, and where they were living at the time. Some records may give you the names of spouses or parents as well.
If they don’t have their service records, there are other ways to get them. Here are a couple of sites you can search for military records:
Contact me, if you would like help finding your Ancestor's military records!