Showing posts with label US Navy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Navy. Show all posts


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Parents

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:    
The Brief:
  • Names / Nick Names
  • Where were they from?
  • Where were they born? - 
  • Were they migrants? Born somewhere else from where they were living
  • How did they meet?
  • Photos
  • Anything you want to share about your parents

My Mother's Growing Up
My mother had told me growing up that her real name was Joan Ann and when she became an adult, she put the names together to create Jo Ann which she had gone by since then. However, upon finding the 1940 census, I found that she was known as Joanne then. I think the person doing the census misspelled her name (which is common) on the form. Also, as you can tell by the census, my mother was born in Pike County in Pennsylvania in the US. Her parents names were Louise and Janet Gauquie and she was the oldest child of the marriage.
1940's census showing where Joanne & parents were living

In the 1950's, my grandfather and grandmother moved their family from Pennsylvania to Newburgh, New York. I believe my grandfather transferred from his job in one of the Pennsylvania railways to a job at a railway in Newburgh, New York.

My Father
My father's name is Matthew Gerald. He was born in New York City; however, my grandparents actually lived in Linden, New Jersey. His parents are Matthew and Jean (Genevieve/Genowefa) Schmitz. He was the oldest child of the marriage.

1940's census showing where Matthew & parents were living
My grandparents moved from Linden, New Jersey to Newburgh, New York after my grandfather got out of the US Army (in the Medical area) and made a gentleman's agreement to buy a Bar & Grill in Newburgh, New York. In the mid 1940's the family moved to Newburgh.

His mother, Jean, had a few names - born Genowefa in Poland, migrated to US and then went by Genevieve or Gennie. It wasn't until she married, that she went under the name of Jean. My father is named after his father Matthew. He has many names he uses - Matt and Jerry/Gerry are the top nicknames. My mother usually just refers to him as Hardass. In fact, growing up I didn't know my father's real name and it wasn't until after my mother overheard me telling someone that my father's name was Hardass, she sat me down and explained what his real name was.
January 1956 - Jo Ann & Matthew with his parents and brother, John

How My Mother & Father Met
Upon the move, I believe sometime in the 1950's my mother met my father and they married. I do know they were dating in January 1956, as is shown in this camera labelled date.

They stayed married until the  mid-1970's when they divorced.

My Mother's Life After Divorce
My mother getting ready for work in 1996.
When my mother left my father, she had no real skills, so she tried to get a job that would pay anything, so we could have some place to live. My father would have Charlie live with him most of the time. However, this was not to last very long and in the 1980's, my brother came and lived with us until he moved out.

My mother eventually got a position as a factory working in Walden, New York. Its been several
names but two names that come to mind were Champion and AmPac, but everyone in Walden calls it The Bag Factory as they make the bags you buy to put gifts in for birthdays, special occasions and holiday. She worked there until she retired because of her knees in early 2000's.

My mother's also had some boyfriend's. There were very few in the first few years after the divorce, but eventually had a few long term relationships. The first long relationship was with Lyle Goldsmith, which lasted about 10 or so years. The other long relationship has been with Dave Weimer and this is her current relationship.

My mother and I in 2011
She loves her cigarettes, watching her crime TV and playing her online games. She does have a dog and loves dogs. Cats, as much as she likes them, she has allergies and they set them off. She used to drink; however, her stomach cannot deal with it since she reached her 60's.

My Father's Life After Divorce
My father and his second wife, Louise in 2011
My father kept the house we had lived in. In fact, he lived there until the 1990's and then moved. My father was single for a few years and remarried in the 1980's to a person called Louise. She had adult
children, so children were not a factor. They are still married today and have moved, like I mentioned, from Newburgh to Wallkill, New York.

As for employment, my father has his pension with the US Navy as he saw out his 20 years. After that he did some factory repair work with some employers. I do remember going to see him at his job with huge machines in Middletown, NY. He did that for a few years and then decided to slow down a bit. He did work for school districts where he ran the internal mail bags from school to school on a daily basis. He did this until he retired in the early 2000's.
My father in his suit for a VFW function in 2009

He loves the US Navy and the submarines and has been into serving via the VFW in different levels. He's also had memberships at the Black Rock Hunting Club for gun shooting and he was actually a registered gun trader until the 2000's. We also made bullets for the variety types of guns. In recent years he's slowing down and has given up formal VFW duties, but still goes to decommissioning of submarines and reunions.He does like his John Wayne and Elvis movies. He loves his dogs and his PT Cruiser.
My father and I in 2010.

  Check back for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.    


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Family who served in the Military & their family

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:    

The Brief: 

          Did you join the military?
          Were you encouraged or discouraged?
          Did a family member?
          Regular or for a particular incident
          Did you or your family serve overseas in the line of Service either during a war or a posting
          Any thoughts, photographs, memories relevant

The video is

This is an interesting topic for me. As everyone stops to say thank you for those who have served, I always ask - how many times in a year do we do this? If you look at each time its about at least 4 times in a year, depending on where you live, that we say thank you to the people who served in the Military. We have Remembrance or Veterans Day (Nov 11), Memorial Day (May), and ANZAC Day (April 25). I do know that some of these are US and some are UK/Australian, but I wonder if anyone stopped to think about each of these days. Then you have the days that are not holidays but there was something, within the military, which happened such as D Day (June 6). 

I'm not saying these should not be here, but I'm just bringing up just how many days we do look back at those who have served. 

My Family
I have some family that have served in the military, so this will be lengthy! The common theme seems to be either in the Army, Air Force or the Navy as far as I know. I'm still researching, but I do know the people below have served or, in one case, I have found documentation they served but have not proven the documentation as yet. 

Great Grandfather (Father's side)
Adam Wojtkowski
Late 1800's/Early 1900's
Russian? Army

This is still the documentation who I still have to prove. I found, when I was doing my research on him, that he could have served in what was then Russian territory (this is now part of Poland). I believe that if he DID serve, it was part of a conscription or draft as this was common I found out. The armies, if they needed more soldiers, went to the nearest church and went through the church records to find men or boys able to serve. Then they asked around the small villages and upon finding the person told them they were now part of the army. If the paperwork is correct, then he was part of the Russian Army. This I believe could be truthful as I know when he migrated to the US, he cursed Russians all the rest of his days. 

Great Grand Uncle (Father's side)
(First Name Unknown) Wojtkowski
Late 1800's/Early 1900's
Polish Army 

I know that Adam and his brother, which I don't know his first name, were very close. In a picture my father saw, they looked like twins because their looks were so close to each other. In fact this brother was 2 years younger than Adam. However, I do know by talking to my father, that this unknown Great Grand Uncle died in his 20's due to being part of the Polish Resistance or Polish Army and fought against the Russians. 

James (or Jimmy) Sherman 
Early 1940's
US Air Force

Jimmy I grew up knowing about due to my mother being very close to her cousin. He always came to visit her and always asked after her in letters. He signed up for the Army because with the attacks of the Germans, his mother was afraid. He figured to protect his mother and others (like my mother), he would sign up to make the world a safer place. He was a gunner in the Air Force. 

The last time my mother saw him, he was due to leave in a few hours to get back to the base before they left on his mission. My mother was able to stay up later than normal, so she could see him. He handed her his wings, he gave her a kiss on the cheek and left. Within a few months, his plane went down and no one ever heard from him again. About the time he went down, my mother said she dreamed of him saying that he was fine and to take care of his wings.
The wings Jimmy gave to my mother, Jo Ann

This is what started my family history search. I wanted, for my mother's sake, to find out what happened to him and why they went down. I was able to find the group he was with and the details of what happened. 
The official report which listed James as MIA.

I was able to find was the Air Force had "The James J. Sherman Papers" located in Florida. These are a collection of works either my Jimmy or his mother, Florance. After Florance died, someone gave her books away to a bookstore. The bookstore found the information and turned it into the Air Force which set up these papers. The sad part about it, is after contacting them, they will not release a copy to myself. If I want to see the collection, I will have to make an appointment and go to Florida to view the items in person. This is very disturbing to me, as I know if my mother knew about the items, she would have claimed them. At this present time, we are not able to travel to the US, so it will have to be something to be looked into at a later date.

Grand Uncle(Father's Side)
Stanley F Wojkowski
US Army

I only know from the US City Directories, but he was in the US Army. I do know growing up my grandmother told me he did some drinking but gambled heavily. I do know he made it home after the war physically, but the later part of his life was not what I would call a good one. 

Grandfather (Father's side)
Matthew Schmitz
US Army

In the last year or so I found, by talking to my father, that my grandfather did serve in the US Army Medical Corps. It was only a few years, but it must have taken its toll on him. I do know that he was an alcoholic and this could have been due to his service. Later in his life, I'm told he had diabetes (from drinking), which put him in the hospital at Castle Point, NY and he died there due to complications of diabetes. 

Matthew G Schmitz
1950's-Early 1970's
US Navy

My father went into the Navy almost right out of High School. By that time, he either was dating or had married my mother. He was stationed all around the US, and my mother went along with him living in military housing and went wherever the Navy sent my father. Eventually he made it into the submarines.

Finally after having 4 children, my mother wanted a home near where they grew up. They moved and I believe lived at Stewart Air Force Base in the military housing there for awhile and then bought their home with the help from my father's mother.

I do know when I was born, he was off shore on the sub and was called into the deck. This is where he learned that I was born by a cable that was sent by the doctor at West Point. 
I was born here because it was the closest military hospital to Newburgh, NY

By the time I was 3 1/2, he had retired from the Navy, but was working in a job he got afterwards. However, he never truly left the Navy - he just went about serving them in other ways. He went to the VFW and joined. 

Over the years, he's went to the commander and into the regional and state commander of the VFW and other organizations which all deal with Subs and the Navy. He has also received many awards and was inducted into the Holland Club.  
His Certificate for the Holland Club
Receiving the Certificate for the Holland Club

In 2013 at the Memorial Day Ceremony

 As he's getting older, he's slowing down and not doing as much in his clubs and organizations, but he is still active. Further, he goes to many of the decommissioning of the subs as well.

Charles A Schmitz Jr
US Navy

My nephew went into the Navy. I'm not sure if it was his grandfather's influence, but I know from talking to him, he needed to do this in order for the GI bill to help with his college costs. He went directly from high school into the Navy. 

He made it from normal Navy into what they call a Fireman. I do know he was on a vessel called the USS Anzio for part of his time serving. 

As he's only been out a few years, he's in the process of getting his education he wanted. 

Thomas James III
US Army

I do know he's been into the Army now for a few years. I heard this back around 2010 or before. As my sister, his mother, started to interfere in my life, I stopped speaking to her, and as he took right after her at that point, I stopped visiting. Within a year they moved from NY to the Carolina's and I never heard from them again at all. Every now and then my brother might bring up what the whole side of the family is doing, but its not often. 

From Facebook, I know that he's still in the Army. 

Military Families
I do know that you cannot mention people who served in any part of the armed forces without saying something about their families. It takes rare people to sign up and even rarer people to actually hold things together here at home while they are off serving. 

Its a very hard life for the families, as I know being within one. I can hear my brother and sisters saying that I wouldn't know because our father was here most of my life (remember he retired when I was very young). However, I was part of a half way club - I was a US Navy brat, but my father never moved around. My mother, even after my parents divorced, continued to move every 2-4 years. Besides, I remember rarely seeing my father growing up (for various of reasons), so it was like he was away on a sub, so to me it didn't matter. 

Throughout my life, I hated the thought of the services. Even after my father stopped "serving" he was still well within the ranks of doing things for the Navy. To the point, where all he would do is talk about only that subject. If I wanted to know what were the goings on in the latest stuff for the Navy, then I would just have to go over to my father's. In a way, its like I didn't have a father or a daddy - I had a person who served with the Navy. I know its hurtful for some, but the Navy has not been good for our family in that way. Most of us curse it because we feel it robbed us of a father and daddy even when he was here with us, he wasn't. 

Do I believe every solder, no matter what branch of the service he's in, is like this? No. I think its like anything - you have a person who loves something to the extreme - but it becomes an obsession. Then you have others where its just a job, they go and do their job and come home. Once they are home, they don't talk about it or if they do talk its in general terms, but they pay attention to who they are talking to and have conversations other than what they are serving. Unfortunately, my father was the extreme type of person.

Anyhow, next time you give thanks to the people serving, just give a thought to those who are supporting that serving - the families - and give just a little bit of thanks to them as well. 

All this being said, do we still love them and proud? Of course! If we didn't, then we wouldn't expend all of the energy it takes to give them a stable home life where they don't have to worry about what's happening back home while they are away. 

I know every year we get up early in the morning and go into the city for the ANZAC day service here in Melbourne. That's when I take the time to think about each person who serves and ask myself - Why did they go in? Did they get what they wanted from it? Do they ever regret it?  - and somehow, overall, I don't think they regret it at all. After all they are fighting for us to be free.


"The Book of Me, Written by You" - Your Childhood Home

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations.

This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
This is a journey of finding yourself and how your loved ones see you in their eyes. Further, this can be online and carried forward to share, if you wish, to future generations. - See more at:
The prompt for the week is:  
Your Childhood Home

The Brief
The Brief
The Brief: 
When did you leave home?
Where was it?
Where did you move to?
Was it rented or owned? – with parents/Grandparents
Was it inherited
What was it like – describe it – each room.
Were there a favourite room?
Is there anything you particularly remember from the house?
The road & area

Where was it located?

When I was born, my parents had recently bought the house and picked the location which was near where they actually grew up. As my father was in the US Navy, they were sent all over the US, which depended on where my father was sent, and we had a house in various military housing neighbourhoods. 

By the time I came along, my mother was tired of packing up and moving from base to base, so they decided to buy the house where they lived when I was born. It was purchased, with my grandmother's help (my father's mother Jean) and the savings they had. 

Like I mentioned above, it was in the area where both my parents grew up. My father was raised around Linden, New Jersey and then when he was around 10, the whole family unit moved from there to Newburgh, New York,  where he stayed until he met and married my mother. Shortly after, he joined the US Navy and the moving was on. 

Linden, NJ Map

My mother, on the other hand, was born in Pike, Pennsylvania.  She moved to Newburgh, New York when she was about 10 as well. From then onwards, she lived around the area until she met my father and he joined the US Navy and moved with him. 
Pike, PA Map

As I said and showed in an earlier post, I was born while living in Newburgh, New York. At that point, all my sisters, brother, mother. and when he wasn't on the submarine, my father all lived in the house. 
Taken from Wikipedia

What did the house look like?

The house looked small from the outside, but was actually pretty spacious. When you walked into the front door, you were taken into a huge living room area. At one point this room had a flat window, but my father later changed it to a bay window. There was a window on the side of the house which looked out onto the driveway and next door's lawn. This area lead you into both the dining room and kitchen areas. In the dining room, it once had just a door going out to the backyard; however, while growing up my father changed this to a sliding door. The kitchen was pretty small overall. It had a sit at table with the refridgerator at the end of it - giving you just enough room to open the door and walk by it. Next to that was the sink which had a window looking out to the backyard. Next to that was a small bench which had storage and then the oven. The phone was on the wall next to the table, which always seemed to have mail and other paperwork on it. Then you could walk out of a doorway and be looking at the door which we walked into. 

Next you had a choice - up stairs or downstairs. First we'll go upstairs. At the top of the 10 or so steps up, you had the bathroom. It was just big enough to hold the toilet, a sink next to that and the combination of bathtub/shower. Walking back out of there you looked directly into a small room straight ahead - it was only about 7 steps to the door. To the left of the door was a linen closet. Anyhow getting back to the room, it was small. Enough for a small dresser and a single bed and not much else. This used to be my room, before my mother left my father (they eventually divorced). I can still see the small plastic picture of that was the only thing in the room - a small tiny Jack Russell type of dog with very sad eyes that looked like he was going to cry, which was understandable due to it looked like someone left him in an alley with no food. 

Anyhow, when you turn to leave that room, you make a right after about a step on the left there was a wall but it was once a laundry shoot. I remember growing up, we used put things down the shoot - at one time it was my brother (I watched), we put some boxer puppies down it, and a list of other things. I remember my mother and grandmother always yelling about what they'd find when they went to do laundry. After taking another 2 steps, you had bigger bedrooms - one of the left and one of the right. The one on the left was the one my sister's shared and the one of the right was the one my brother had. 

Upon returning to where we had the choice of upstairs and downstairs, we will now go downstairs. This has changed over time. When I was born, it had wood paneling on the left and a handrail on the right and went down about 15 steps. At the bottom of the stairs, on your left you had the laundry room, with the laundry shoot and small crawl space I was always playing in when I was a kid. 

Take about 3 steps and the other door was to another bedroom. This was the one my parents shared when we were growing up. It had an attached bathroom that included a sink, toilet (which had a handle made like a spring and you pressed that down to flush the toilet), and bathtub/shower combined. In later years, the bathtub/shower became just a shower.

The rest of the room was a game room with a bar with alcohol in it. At first it just had a room big enough for a small sofa with a TV on a stand with some sitting room on the floor and the bar with some bar chairs. However, my father then built onto it enough to have a game room - and big enough to hold a full sized pool table. There was a small window looking out to the other side of the house and a door leading to stairs going up about 15 or so into the backyard. This was the room which they always had their holiday parties, as I mentioned in my last post
1970's - Me with boxer pups, my grandmother looking on in front of the house in Newburgh, NY
The house was located almost at the end of a cul de sac on Fleetwood Drive. It was a different street - you had a party house on one side, on the other side a house left to riot with windows boarded up and doors that were broken from the hinges. There were 3 regular looking houses around the cul de sac a gap where there was a field and then more regular looking houses on the other side of the street to us. As you can tell, the street held about a dozen houses.
2013 - What the house looks like today in Newburgh, NY

When did you move?
My mother, middle sister, brother and I all moved out when my mother left my father in 1975, I believe. She had stored some money up and left while my father was at work during the night. My sister, brother and I left very early the next morning - we were running out the back of the game room when he was walking in the front door. 

Like I mentioned, my mother had limited funds and so we ended up moving in with my oldest sister while she looked for work to afford a place. This was in Walden, New York. We finally were able to move out of my sister's place in 1976, I think it was. 

We then moved about every 3-5 years around Walden, Montgomery, and Maybrook all located in New York. 

My father, on the other hand, lived in this house until he moved in 1994.

When did you leave your mother's "roof"?
I left from under my mother's roof, the first time, when I went to SUNY Institute of Technology at Utica Rome in Utica, New York in 1995. I went here to get my Bachelor's degree - only I ended up never completing it. 

The second time was when I left the US and moved to Australia to get married to my husband in 1997. As I'm still in Melbourne, it was a good choice.

I hope you enjoyed your tour of the house when I was born.

Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.   - See more at:
Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series. 
Check back next week for the continuation of "The Book of me, Written by You" series.   - See more at: