I belong to a writing group in Trescott, Maine, headed by Dr. Michael Brown. We meet at Cobscook Community Learning Center every two weeks. I first met Chuck Kniffen there, a few years back. Soon after he joined the group, Chuck and his wife made a trip to Florida and tented out in driving rain. Chuck had flashbacks on his “vacation.” After returning home, he began to write about his experiences in Vietnam and living with undiagnosed PTSD for most of his life.
His book has just been published. It is riveting. You will cry, you will laugh at Chuck’s unique humor, but most of all you will see with glaring intensity the true cost of war. The story is so relevant to the times we live in.
I have been involved with this writing group for more than three years and enjoyed our gatherings tremendously. I made friends who regularly support each other, as writers and in our personal lives. It a priceless gift. After joining this group, I began to write about my own life and stories about my ancestors, and writing eventually led to the birth of this blog.
Thank you for your service Chuck. Thank you for having the courage to write your story. Congratulations!
Related posts about war veterans:
in Machias, Maine assembled packages to send to our Active Duty Servicemen and Servicewomen. Members donated items that will brighten the holidays for many who will not be able to be home with their families as they serve their country.
Members of the Daughters of the American Revolution come from a variety of backgrounds and interests, but all share a common bond of having an ancestor who helped contribute to securing the independence of the United States of America. Daughters are passionate about community service, preserving history, educating children, as well as honoring and supporting those who serve our nation.
The Hannah Weston Chapter of the DAR is also gathering Christmas and Valentine treats from members for the residents of the Machias Veterans Home.
Thank you to all the men and women who are currently serving our country and to all veterans who served in the past. We are grateful!
Many, many thanks to Holly, chair of the DAR Project Patriots Committee, for assembling and mailing these packages. Your hard work is much appreciated!
LEST WE FORGET
This beautiful memorial honors hundreds of men and women for their wartime service. Lubec, Maine is a small seaside town at the easternmost point in the contiguous United States. In 2010, its population was 1359 residents. Despite its size, many sons and daughters of Lubec fought for their country in the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The memorial also honors those who served their country in Peacetime.
Standing in front of the Memorial, gazing at all the names, I am in awe of the patriotic, brave men and women of Lubec.
The names of my father, James E. Rier, and three of his brothers, Julian V. (Barney), Paul J. and Francis E. (Babe), are inscribed in black granite for their service in World War II.
This memorial is situated in a lovely park, the grounds lined by canons, close to a statue honoring the sacrifices of the Civil War heroes of Lubec. Appomattox was the final campaign of the Civil War that led to the surrender of General Robert E Lee to Ulysses S Grant of the Union Army at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia on April 9. 1865.
My Dad, James “Gene” Rier, served in the US Army Air Corp from March 7, 1942 until December 30, 1945. I was surprised to find this letter among his papers along with other documents. It is a Statement of Interest in Consideration for Commission in the Regular Army. October 22, 1945. I had no idea that he submitted this letter of interest for commission in the US Army Air Corp after the war. Perhaps it was a backup plan in the case he did not find a civilian job.
Note: Pertinent parts of this letter are transcribed below for easy reading.
By October 29, 1945, one week after this letter of interest, Captain James E Rier, separated from the US Army Air Corp with commendation.
Dad found a job at the mill in Calais where he worked for a year and saved the money to build a home and business in Machias. By January 4th, 1946, Dad, Mom and my brother Jimmy were living in Calais.
What is interesting about Dad’s Statement of Interest for Commission in the Army is the details it contains about Dad’s education, training, and his early work history. I thought I knew about all about it but I did not. He wrote:
I have attended the following schools or colleges for the indicated number of years and hold the indicated degrees:
a. New England Aircraft School – Airplane Mechanics Course, six months.
b. Hemphill Diesel School, Boston Mass, six months.
c. Army Pilot Training, seven months.
d. Pratt & Whitney Aircraft School – Engine Specialist Course, two months.
My professional or business experience is as follows:
a. Aircraft Maintenance Officer – Three years
b. Six years experience as auto mechanic and foreman
c. Two years experience as topographer and surveyor
My military record is as follows:
a. Commissioned at Brooks Field, Texas, 7 March 1942, per paragraph 14 GO 54.
b. Date of entry on active duty 7 March 1942
c. Active duty, commissioned service, three years and eight months
d. Active duty, enlisted service, one year five months
Former immediate commanding officers from whom an officer evaluation report may be obtained:
a. Colonel Benjamin J. Webster, present address, Stewart Field, Newburgh, NY, served under from 25 June 1945 to date.
b. Colonel Joe W. Kelly, last known address, AAF Training Command, Fort Worth, Texas, served under from 25 January 1945 to 25 June 1945.
c. Colonel George F. Schlatter, last known address, Stewart Field, Newburgh, NY, served under from 3 June 1943 to 25 January 1945.
Permanent home mailing address: Lubec, Maine.
Dad must have been receiving his mail at his mother’s home in Lubec.
Dad’s Separation Qualification Record adds more details of his military career.
Military Occupational Assignments
5 months 2 Lt, Pilot, Two Engined (1051)
4 months 2nd Lt, Pilot, Single Engine (1054)
35 months Capt, Flight Test Maintenance Officer (4821)
Flight Test Maintenance Officer. Supervised the inspection, maintenance and repair of single and two engine training aircraft in the production line maintenance section. Supervised the preparation of reports, forms and correspondence necessary in the administration of the section. Supervised the changing of aircraft engines. Performed all necessary test flights to check safety of aircraft. Totaled 1215 flying hours as First Pilot.
Note: Dad was awarded the Legion of Merit for his accomplishments as a Flight Test Maintenance Officer.
On the second page, Dad lists employment:
Auto mechanic at Diamond Point Garage, Lubec Maine from 1935 to 1937. (This must be his father, Frank Rier’s garage. I did not know the name).
Topographer – 35.725 – for US Engineering Department, Boston, Mass from 1934 to 1935. On survey party, making maps of flooded area, also map of area to be flooded by future dam built.
Dad must have done the surveyor work right after he graduated from Lubec High School in 1934, likely living with his Aunt Mary in Leominster, MA. He truly was a jack of all trades!
Dad received his West Point Assignment as a Flight Instructor in 1942. He sent a telegram to my mother, Louise Johnson, announcing his new assignment. They would soon marry and reside at West Point. Dad had undergone basic flight training at Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, Texas, at Parks Air College and was preparing to take his place in the newly expanded US Army Air Corp as a flying second lieutenant. Read more here…