By: John Cuddy -Oct.2019
Dracut’s Pat Walor was born on his family’s farm in Peabody, Massachusetts in 1923 – the second youngest of eleven children. His father was a dirt farmer (Pat’s own description of a vegetable farmer). He recalls his weekly trips into Faneuil Hall in Boston to sell their vegetables on commission. A few years ago, I first met Pat after 4 p.m. Mass at St. Francis Church in Dracut.
After Mass I noticed him putting on his World War II Veteran ball cap and brought my granddaughter over to meet him. Although she was only two at the time, I wanted her to meet a living World War II Veteran. Her great-great-grandfather had fought in the Mexican Border War of 1915 and was wounded in the trenches of World War I so I thought this introduction was important. This year, on Armed Forces Day, she and her brothers changed the American Flag on their great-great-grandfather’s grave.
On March 10, 1943 Pat enlisted into the US Army. He did his basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C. Although he was originally told he would serve in the Pacific, he was ultimately sent to serve in Europe. He remembers the boat ride over and how scared all of them were because of the rough seas and the boat crashing on the waves. Pat Walor never drank or smoked but he liked to eat. He smiled as he recounted to me that on the boat ride he always volunteered for Kitchen Duty, called KP by the Troops, whenever he could, so he could eat when he wanted, and as much food as he wanted.
Serving with Company D, of the 39th Infantry Regiment, part of the 9th Infantry Division, US Army veteran, Pat Walor trained as a Light Mortar Crewman. Pat and his unit landed at Utah Beach four days after D-Day where heavy casualties led to him being reassigned as an Infantryman. He fought in Normandy, Northern France, and finally the Rhineland. On his 21st birthday, he was wounded as they were advancing toward Brussels. After spending some time in the hospital, Pat was being sent back to the front lines but a Major saw him and said he was not healed enough yet and was ordered to stay in the hospital longer to recuperate.
Pat was in Marseille, France when they heard the news that Germany had surrendered. He was inside his tent and he remembers hearing cheers and everyone shooting their guns into the air. Like many local US Army Veterans, after he recovered from wounds received in combat against the Nazis, Pat was mustered out at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, on April 1, 1946. Pat was finally issued the famous World War II Honorable Discharge Pin to wear on his uniform, called the “Ruptured Duck” by the Troops. This pin, made of brass, sometimes plastic, sometimes simply a cloth patch, allowed the servicemen or women, after World War II to wear their military uniform home, taking advantage of free public transportation offered to servicemen. The Ruptured Duck also prevented US Military Officers and NCO’s from putting the recently discharged Veterans on work details.
Pat earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the coveted Combat Infantry Badge, The European Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Distinguished Unit Ribbon, and the World War II Victory Medal. He wore the Sharpshooter Rifle and Marksman Pistol Badges.
The 9th Infantry Division fought in North Africa, Sicily, Normandy, and ended the war in Dessau, Germany. The Unit spent over 300 days in combat during World War II, was one of the first American Units to engage the enemy on the ground. Soldiers in the 9th Infantry earned four Medals of Honor, 86 Distinguished Service Crosses, and a staggering 1,769 Silver Stars. These are considered the “top three” US Medals by Veterans.
After serving in World War II, Pat married Eleanor Mscisz of Danvers, Massachusetts and together they bought their own dairy farm in Dracut. They sold their milk to Merrimack Valley’s legendary dairy, Glennies, of North Andover. When I was a child growing up on 12 East Boxford Street in Lawrence (now a Tennis Court) we had a Glennie’s Milkman. Sitting with the man who provided the milk to Glennie’s was quite the experience.
In 1957 there was a terrible fire. Pat and Eleanor lost everything – their home, the barns and all their cows and pigs. It was just too expensive and too hard to start over so Pat switched from milk cows to beef cows and went to work for Holihan’s Brewery in Lawrence for many years. He then went to work for Polaroid in Cambridge from where he ultimately retired.
Pat and Eleanor, his wife of sixty-six years when she passed in 2013, raised their four children, Joe, Patty, Sandy and Mary on their family farm in Dracut. The family now includes eight grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild with more coming in a few months!
Dirt farmer, soldier, dairy farmer, cattle rancher, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and the best neighbor and friend anyone could ask for; Pat is a great representative of the sixteen and a half million heroes who saved the world in 1945, then came home and quietly raised their families, built their communities, and made the United States the greatest nation ever – undoubtedly The Greatest Generation.
The Dracut VSO and the Dracut American Legion ask all World War II and Korean War Veterans to call 603-518-5368 and sign up for an Honor Flight to the Memorials in Washington DC!
John Cuddy served in the US Navy’s Construction Battalions (also known as the Seabees) after retiring from the Navy; he earned a bachelor’s in history and a master’s in economics from the University of Massachusetts on the Lowell Campus. He has been employed in Logistics at FedEx for the last 22 years. If you know a World War II veteran who would like their story told, please email him at John.Cuddy@Yahoo.com. ◊