By Peggy Wendler
A new addition to the newsletter will be what we are calling “Hank’s Corner”, where you will find a story of a veteran, whether above or below ground, of any age, who has served our country.
With all the hubbub at the museum the past couple of months, there has been little time for research. So, I will tell of a veteran of the Korean Conflict who is buried in the Towanda Cemetery, who’s story I know well, but is unknown to most of you.
Marvin was born in 1930. He was a quiet and unpretentious person, taking life’s ups and downs in stride. He struggled a little in school, as did his brother Orville, both being held back twice in the earlier years. This may have been due to all the moving around the family did during those years. As a teenager he helped his father at his propane business as the company clerk and at other tasks. Marvin was a junior in high school when he registered for the draft in Sep-1948. His brother Orville registered in 1950.
They were both called up to take their pre-induction physicals in April of 1951. Once they took their physicals, the rules said they could not choose which service branch they wanted to go into; Uncle Sam would put them where Uncle Sam wanted to, which was usually in the Army. Marvin and Orville both received their draft cards for the Army within 1 week of each other in early June, but they had not opened them yet. In a June issue of the local newspaper a notice appeared saying this rule was rescinded till July 15th. They had about a two week window, and you better believe they jumped on that opportunity! They packed their bags and left that day for Kansas City, where they enlisted in the Air Force under the Buddy System. This meant that they would be stationed everywhere together and could look out for each other. Marvin was 21 and Orville was 19. Orville dropped out of high school to go into the Air Force. Marvin & Orville took their basic training together, and served all 4 years together at the same bases. Marvin became a payroll clerk and Orville a mechanic. The brothers served 20 months and 22 days at Clark Air Force Base in the Philippines from late 1952 thru April of 1954. They completed their 4 years of active duty in Texas, and were released to civilian life in July of 1955, but they still had to complete 4 years of Air Force Reserves duty.
This picture was found in Marvin’s wallet. He had laminated it and carried it with him all his life. It shows him (left) and his brother Orville at a stopover at the Hawaiian Islands on their way to or from the Philippines.
One of the stories Marvin used to tell was of the children in the Philippines. Whenever the soldiers would eat anywhere off-base, when they finished their meal, the children would scurry up and ask very politely if they were done and could they clean up the table. As soon as they were allowed to do so, they would scoop everything into bags and take them away to feed their families. The people were very poor.
Marvin received the National Defense Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. He & Orville received Honorable Discharge on July 1, 1959.
All 5 of Marvin’s children lived in Towanda at some point. Marvin came thru every day on his way to and from work and would stop and visit his children and grandchildren. While Marvin was not born or raised or ever lived in Towanda, he is buried here, and deserves recognition for his service. Though he did no singular great deeds in the service, he is still great in my mind. He was my father, Marvin B Wendler.