Sunday’s Salute ~ William Darrell Vickrey ~ World War II

William Darrell Vickrey, my 1st cousin, was born on December 24, 1922, in Wheat Springs, Missouri. He was the firstborn of 10 children born to Hazel Clara Hughes (1901-1953) and Kenneth Carlton Vickrey (1894-1958). William went by the name Darrell his whole life. He was raised on the family farm in the rural Missouri Town of Sweet Springs. When Darrel was 10 years old his family bought a new farm in Otterville, Cooper County, Missouri .

At the age of 20 years old, Darrell enlisted in the Army. After boot camp, he became part of the 528th Engineer Light Pontoon Company, and he was sent to England. This regiment was a combat engineer unit organized and trained to transport and maintain its stream-crossing equipage, to construct floating bridges and rafts with this equipage, to guard and maintain completed bridges, to regulate traffic thereon, and to dismantle bridges and rafts. They were responsible for construction of floating bridges and rafts assisted by general engineer troops. Light pontoon companies would be attached to divisions engaged in stream-crossing operations in accordance with the tactical situation.

He made many trips to Germany where he helped to ferry infantry and special forces troops in this M2 assault boat. Within a year he was promoted to the rank of Sargent. He also served in England; France; Belgium; and the European Theater. He participated in the following Campaigns or Battles: Operation Overlord (D-Day Normandy Invasion) Utah Beach, Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal.

After the war he returned to the United States and completed his service in the Army. On December 3, 1945, Darrell was going to catch a train from the Union Station in Chicago to the Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri. He was running late that morning and arrived at the ticket counter just in time to buy his ticket. He heard the engineer yell for the last boarding call, and he ran quickly through the Station and out to the platform. The train was just slowly pulling away from the platform so Darrel ran as fast as he could, and jumped towards the open train door. He didn’t make it, and he fell under the train and was killed. He was just 22 years old.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday’s Salute ~ Norman Miles Sims ~ Lost at Sea ~ World War II

Norman SimsNorman Miles Sims, my 3rd Cousin, was born on March 22, 1917, in Vancouver, Clark County, Washington. He is the youngest son of Melfred Carl Sims (1885-1922) and Dollie Irene Simcosky (1888-1970). Normans’ father died when he was 5 years old. Norman played football and basketball at R.A. Long High School in Longview Washington, having to prove himself for the following reason. He felt he had the shadow of 3 older brothers hanging over him.


After High School all three of his older brothers, Franklin, Vinton, and Sims boys USNMilfred “Swede” Jr all joined the Navy. Franklin was a First Class Seaman, Vinton was a Chief Petty Officer and Swede was a Lieutenant in the Medical Service Corps. In 1935, Norman wanted to follow his brothers into the Navy, however, despite him qualifying in all academic and physical fitness tests he was rejected. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, he was ½ inch too tall!


Norman Miles Sims WWII newspaper 3This did not deter Norman, and he decided to ask assistance with his enlistment goals. He wrote a letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt pleading his case. President Roosevelt asked the Navy to give him a special dispensation and let Norman join his 3 brothers in the service of our nation. In 1935, he joined Swede and Franklin on the U.S.S. West Virginia.


On December 31, 1941, a few weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor on Norman Miles Sims WWII letterDecember 7, 1941, Norman was assigned to the U.S.S. Pillsbury. The Pillsbury was sent to the Java Sea. This area was crucial to both sides of the fight and there were many battles that were fought for the territory. On March 1, 1942, during a battle near the Island of Java in the South Pacific, the U.S.S. Pillsbury was fired upon by 4 Japanese battleships. The ship was badly damaged and it sank. Norman and the rest of the crew went down with the ship. The Navy officially declared him dead on November 25, 1945.


I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Sunday Salute ~ Memorial Day ~ Honoring Those Who Gave All


In honor of Memorial Day tomorrow I thought I would mention my ancestors who gave their all for our country. I have at least one ancestor who has fought in every war since colonial times. Although many fought in these wars, only a few have been killed. So I remember those brave men who gave us the freedoms we have today!

Hugh Alley Sr (1608-1673) ~ He immigrated from England to Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts in 1637. In the fall of 1672, the Native Indians conducted raids of several growing towns. Many settlers were killed as a result. Believing that the Indians had declared war on them several men from the nearby towns banded together to fight those who had attacked. During one skirmish on January 25. 1673 Hugh was killed. He is my 9x Great Grandfather.

George Parrott (1746-1777) ~ He enlisted at the start of the War in 1775 serving under Captain John Tipton. He participated in many battles including the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Paoli. On October 4, 1777, he fought in The Battle of Germantown. The Continentals lost 152 men that morning including George. Many soldiers were buried in mass graves, some were buried in local cemeteries. There is no known record of the disposition of George’s body. George was 31 years old and had never been married nor had any children. He is my 3x Great Uncle.

Charles “Boy” Combs (1843-1869) ~ On March 12, 1862, 19-year-old “Boy” enlisted in Company B, Indiana 27th Infantry Regiment. He then proudly marched off to War wearing the blue uniform of the Union Army. At the Battle of Antietam which was the single bloodiest day in American military history, “Boy” was injured along with 9539 other soldiers. Over 2000 Union soldiers were killed. Although he survived the War he never completely recovered from the wounds that he received in the Battle of Antietam. He spent the next 4 years fighting a reoccurring infection. On January 2, 1869 “Boy” died from the infection. He is my 3rd cousin.

William J, Register (1915-1944) ~ He joined the army in 1939 at the age of 24 at the start of WWII. He went through basic training and was stationed at Fort Hood Army base in Killeen, TX. He was trained to drive and maneuver the tanks and to fire them with accuracy. In 1942 he was shipped to England. On June 6, 1944, William along with countless others landed on the beaches of Normandy and there his life ended. His body was never found. He is my 2nd cousin.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

“My Aunt, One of the Rosie the Riveters”

ImageOn a cold winter morning on the 14th of November, 1919, Margaret Ruth Hughes was born in Sweetwater Missouri. She was the youngest of 11 siblings. Being raised on a farm in rural Missouri she spent most of her childhood working on the family farm and tending to her Fathers prize-winning horses and mules. She learned how to cook and sew, which seemed to come naturally to her.

By 1930, soon after the start of the Great Depression, her family moved to a new farm outside of Lexington Missouri.  The Hughes’ were skilled farmers and they were able to grow enough vegetables not only to feed their own large family but also those of their neighbors. They also raised cows and pigs so there was always plenty of meat to eat.  Margaret learned how to be generous and giving from the examples of her parents.

In 1940 she was living in the town of Lexington sharing an apartment with her widowed brother (my Dad) and her widowed sister. She was working at a Laundry as an ironer. She used her skills as a seamstress and she soon began a sewing career, one that she worked at until her retirement in 1980. She was so talented that she developed her own unique type of Western Shirt that was well sought after in the Kansas City area.

Aunt Margaret and a friend, 1940 Lexington MO.

Then came World War II. At the age of 24, she moved by herself across the country to the San Francisco area to become one of the thousands of “Rosie the Riveters”. She worked at the Naval Shipyard on Mare Island. This shipyard built more than 400 vessels during the course of the War. As a matter of fact, Mare Island set a record for building a Navy Destroyer in just 17 ½ days. To this day this record has never been broken. She really enjoyed her job as a riveter and she learned a lot from the experience. She would sew shirts for the sailors as gifts and gave them to the men when they shipped out.  Margaret met and married a sailor in 1944 and he was soon sent overseas. It wasn’t long after he left that she discovered that she was pregnant. In the spring of 1945, Margaret returned home to Missouri to have her son there. Her husband never returned from the War so she raised him by herself for 4 years until she married my Uncle.

This experience made Margaret a very strong and determined woman. She loved her family deeply and worked very hard. She approached every obstacle in life with a zeal I have never found in anyone else. She passed away in 1988. A month Aunt Margaret for blog olderbefore she died Margaret was told she had cancer throughout her entire body. The doctor was shocked that she could even walk let alone continue to care for her family. No one knew that for years she had lived in terrible pain. This is the woman that I try to fashion my life after. I want to be as loving, giving, kind and strong as she was. At least that is my goal.



I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, andcropped-blog-pic1.jpg grandma. I have two books available on Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.