Whether at present or in years long past, so many of us are families of veterans. Their commitment and service is a legacy to succeeding generations on true values in life – honoring your country, as well as your family. In a sacrifice repeated through time, our families send sons and daughters to peacetime duty or periods of war and conflict.
My Father’s Family History of Veterans
Edgar Hood and Myrle McElroy of Waxahachie, Texas proudly raised four sons and one daughter and served as wonderful role models for their children and future grandchildren. Ed worked diligently and rose from printer’s devil to Managing Editor of the local newspaper, the Waxahachie Daily Light, and a respected member of the community. Never feeling confined by his present circumstances or small-town status, he reached far beyond his local roots in covering stories for his paper.
Myrle was a devoted wife and mother who lovingly raised her children, dispensing discipline as necessary, and participating in their everyday lives. She could often be seen driving slowly at dawn, as her young sons threw paper routes from the fenders of her car.
Ed and Myrle taught their children to be true to their calling and persevere, applying themselves to whatever life presented. They were always to love and respect each other, as well as serve their community. When duty called on December 7, 1941, their sons honored their country and left for war.
John, the oldest, never considered the military as a career but the attack on Pearl Harbor changed that viewpoint and he enlisted in the Navy the following day. LTJG McElroy would serve as a PT boat skipper for Squadron Ron 9, Rendova Island in the South Pacific, and considered selection for such hazardous duty as an honor. Their mission would be threefold: prevent the Japanese Navy and Tokyo Express from resupplying island strongholds in the area, prevent the escape of Japanese forces and their concentrated movement between the islands, and help move Marine-strike forces behind enemy lines. Ron 9 would serve more combat patrols than any other PT squadron in the Solomons and some nights returned to base repeatedly for ammunition in strikes against Japanese destroyers and enemy barges.
LTJG McElroy was awarded a Silver Star for repeated action against Japanese forces while serving as Captain of a PT boat squadron in the Solomon Islands area, July, 1943.
Years later, his father, now Waxahachie Postmaster, would receive another official letter.
All three of John’s brothers would join him in the war.
Edgar Hood McElroy, Jr. or Bodie, as he was known, was a second son of the family. Having suffered a serious leg injury from a horse accident in his youth, he was rejected by every branch of service he approached. Although repeatedly unsuccessful but determined to enlist, he finally gained Navy acceptance and served proudly in the Pacific as a chief mechanic. His persistence to serve was no surprise to family members who knew there was little in life that Bodie could not accomplish, should he decide to do so.
Tom, a third son in line, served as an Ensign on a tanker in the South Pacific. Out on deck one morning, he witnessed a Kamikaze pilot diving for the ship and, narrowly missing its target, violently struck the water and sank beneath the waves. Envisioning the determination and rage on the face of the pilot, it forged a deep impact on Tom’s life. He decided at that moment, following the war, that he would live and practice in peaceful resolution.
Pat, the youngest of the sons, had just turned 17 when the attack on Pearl Harbor was announced. Following in the steps of his older brothers, he would enlist and serve as a control tower and radar operator in the Army Air Corps.
This family was among the fortunate, for the four sons who left for war would all return. So many do not. My father’s closest childhood friend, an Army First Lieutenant with the 135th Infantry Regiment in Italy, would die on Christmas Eve, 1944 at the age of 26. He was the only son in a family of five children.
As we remember not only our own veterans but the history of all who serve, we pay tribute to the monumental contribution provided by their commitment and sacrifice on our behalf. Their sense of duty continues to preserve our past, safeguard our present, and sustain our future.
“A nation reveals itself not only in the men it produces but also by the men it honors, the men it remembers.”
John F. Kennedy