Monday, May 16, 2011

Military Monday: What Dad Did in the War, 1942-1945

Second from left in the front row is Harold Burk, my father. He enlisted on March 7, 1942 at Camp Upton, NY. Maybe this is his basic training photo?

Dad served in the Army's 3163rd Signal Service Company, as a teletype operator and then as a personnel clerk, rising to the rank of Technician, 5th grade (insignia at right) by the time of his discharge in October, 1945. In all, he served for 3 years, 6 months, and 28 days.

The pinnacle of his advancement was becoming a sgt, but he didn't hold that post for long (see earlier blog post about his story about that experience).

Dad's military paperwork shows that he served in Central Europe and Rhineland (red/blue insignia above left), leaving for Europe in November, 1944 and returning to the US in July, 1945. At left are three photos of him, marked "Paris, April, 1945."

He received a "European-African-Middle Eastern Service Medal" as well as a good conduct medal. Sadly, I don't have either of his decorations, and he told precious few stories of his time in the service.

After his service was over, Dad didn't waste any time looking for the right gal to marry. Three weeks after his discharge, he met Mom (Daisy Schwartz) and kissed her on the first date, according to a letter she wrote to her best friend. By New Year's Day, 1946, they were engaged, and because of the severe post-war housing shortage, they didn't get married until November, 1946. My father wooed my mother endlessly during that time, sending her cards and letters when separated, many of which she saved for decades (and passed along to her daughters). He was 10 years older than my mother and eager to make up for lost time by settling down right away!


  1. How great to have some photos from his time overseas! I'm sure you have thought of this, but you can still buy old military medals. There are many vendors online, just trying googling the name of the medal. It is not as nice as having the one actually rewarded, but it may be nice to have one to showcase anyway.

  2. Heather, thanks for the idea...the "good conduct" medal isn't as meaningful to me as the other, which I'll look into. I'm not sure how these photos were handed down--perhaps he sent them to his mother, and then he inherited them just a few years later when she died? Anyway, I appreciate your comments!