Showing posts with label 3163rd Signal Service Company. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 3163rd Signal Service Company. Show all posts

Friday, March 3, 2017

Military Monday: Is This Dad's WWII Jacket?

This morning I woke up to an unexpected surprise, in the form of an email from a gentleman in New England. He wrote:
"I recently bought an old military field coat with the name H.D. Burk and B4446 written in it. Some basic research tells me it's from a Harold Burk who was born in 1909 and enlisted in the Army in 1942. A quick Google search also returned a link to your blog...Does this sound like the correct Harold Burk?"
My Dad, Harold Burk (1909-1978), enlisted in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton, NY on March 7, 1942, 75 years ago this week. I took out Dad's dog tags and sure enough, the number matched!

I wrote back to say "yes," this sounds like Dad. The handprinted name looks like his writing, and I felt a pang just looking at it. I asked how this gentleman, Mr. G, went about researching the jacket. He sent me to the WWII US Army Enlistment website, which contains info on nearly 9 million people.

At left is the search box from the site, where I did what Mr. G did--I entered the laundry number (part of Dad's serial number) and his surname. Up popped a few details about Dad's enlistment. I had already documented his service, using his discharge papers, among other sources, but now I have another resource to try when researching other ancestors who served in WWII, thanks to Mr. G.

(Try it for any of your ancestors who served in WWII! Even if you don't have a serial number or laundry number, go ahead and fill in other details on the search form, then weed through the results.)

My Dad served in Europe with the 3163d Signal Service Company, as a clerk, and spent April of 1945 in Paris after the liberation. He's the serviceman on the right in this photo at a bistro.

Mr. G gave me more info about the jacket: It's an M-1943 Field Coat, which became standard for the Army during the war, especially for soldiers in colder climates. How my Dad's survived all these years, and in such great shape, I can't imagine.

What a wave of emotion seeing Dad's WWII jacket and handprinted name, and knowing that the collector, Mr. G, wanted to find out more about the man who wore it seven decades in the past.

I'm grateful to Mr. G for getting in touch, especially as this fits in nicely with my Genealogy Go-Over, reexamining documents and artifacts with an eye toward telling more stories about my ancestors. Thanks to Mr. G for permission to post his photos of Dad's jacket!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Military Monday: RIP to Harold Burk of the 3163d Signal Service Company


On this anniversary of Harold Burk's death, I want to look back at his WWII experience. Dad enlisted in 1942, at the age of 32, and after basic training, he was assigned as a teletype operator. Because he could type, he then served as a personnel clerk in the Signal Corps, the Army unit responsible for communications.  

In 1944, he and his unit (the 3163d Signal Service Company) were sent to the heart of Europe to prep communication lines for the Allies' major ground offensives. After Paris was liberated, his unit advanced to a position close to the city in preparation for the final weeks of the war. He spent the spring of 1945 in Paris and sent home photos of himself with famous landmarks.

When Dad was honorably discharged in October, 1945, he held the rank of Technician, 5th grade. I've told the story before of how he was "busted" from sergeant back to private because he wanted to keep the men in his company warm with deliveries of coal. RIP, Dad (1909-1978).

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!