Chapter C - Mick McBee
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 13 January 2023
I grew up in a small town (4,200 people) in post-WWII Appalachia, and I remember that there was universal respect for military service. Most fathers served in the military and virtually every family was somehow impacted by the War. The War was a shared experience. As a youngster in the early 1950s, I did not sense there was any distinction among persons who volunteered, were drafted or did not serve at all. Furthermore, there was great respect for President Eisenhower, who had been the Supreme Allied Commander.
Although the Vietnam War created divisions within the country as to the support of the War, the military and the draft, most of that was not apparent in our small town of mostly blue collar and farm workers. Most draft age men expected to serve upon graduation from high school except for the small percentage, 10 percent, who would attend college. My perspective on the draft was limited to observation of others as nothing beyond my registration was expected other than a college deferment. Then before graduation from high school a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) scholarship was awarded to me. In fact, I naively thought the draft card was related to draft beer. For, along with a driver's license, it was the ticket to be able to purchase six percent beer at 18 years.
Ancestral and Immediate Family Military Experiences
As far as I know, no ancestors of mine served in the military prior to my parents except an ancestor of my paternal grandmother who fought in the Revolutionary War qualifying her for the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). My paternal ancestors were farmers who were early settlers in West Virginia. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Italy as children. An apprentice watchmaker, my father joined the Army in December 1941, gave up a stateside clerk's job on a command staff to go to OCS (Officer Candidate School). He served in combat in Italy earning the French Croix de Guerre for leading his company in the rescue of French troops being overrun. My mother was an Army nurse and they met when he was hospitalized after being wounded. They married in Bari, Italy and I was my mother's ticket home early as they did not want pregnant nurses on active duty. After father returned from overseas, three sisters were added to the family.
- Military MemoriesDraft Era Veterans Recall their Service, pp. 59 - 72Publisher: Anthem PressPrint publication year: 2022