01 May 2013

NMAM: Daddy

The month of May has been designated by Congress as National Military Appreciation Month. As such, Genealogical Gems will feature a veteran or current member of the military each day. Today, we begin with Daddy - Joseph Ruczhak, Jr.

Daddy fought in Vietnam and like many Vietnam veterans, he did not have the most positive experience, to put it nicely. I however am very proud of my father.

This is him at left. It's a picture from an old issue of Lukens Life, the company newsletter for Lukens Steel Mill in Coatesville. Daddy worked there, His father and his grandfather worked there as well. Many other family members did too as it was the largest business in the Coatesville area - still is although it has long been bought out by another company.

At the time of this photo, Daddy was a Specialist Four in the Army First Infantry Division. While I do not have a date for the article and photo, it was late 1965 or early 1966. Daddy arrived over there in 1965, having been drafted.

Growing up, Daddy rarely spoke of his military service. He still doesn't talk about it much and when he does, he is still quick to anger. I cannot begin to imagine how he felt when he came home from doing his civic duty only to have stones and tomatos thrown at him. No ticker tape parades for our Vietnam vets, sadly. I think those wounds and insults from our own people - from other Americans - left mroe scars than the battlefield did.

In my quest to find more information, I stumbled upon a <Journal of the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry "QuarterHorse"> in which he is of course listed as having served in South Vietnam. It lists his service there as June to September 1965. According to the site, the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry "Quarter Horse" is "one of the oldest and most decorated cavalry Units in the United States Army and has a rich history."

Before being drafted he was employed in the Inspection Department at Lukens. He had graduated Scott High School in 1960 and went into Lukens' labor pool.

Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.