TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – Al Holloway never knew much about his dad’s military service.
“It took 76 years to dig all this stuff up,” he told 13 NEWS.
Homer Holloway, Jr. served in World War II.
“He generally didn’t talk about it,” Al said. “We knew he had been in the army. We knew he was a staff sergeant. And that was about all we ever heard. “
Al said his dad did once share with him that he’d lost many friends in the fighting. When Staff Sgt. Holloway passed away in 1991, Al, his mom, and his brother decided to search for his story.
“What did he actually do? On my part, it was all just pure curiosity, ”Al said.
An initial inquiry to obtain his discharge document was discouraging. A 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Louis destroyed most Army personnel records from 1912 to 1959.
Al kept calling around, and landed on a county recording office in Des Moines, Iowa, where his dad had lived and enlisted in the Iowa National Guard in 1940.
“(The man on the phone) went and looked, and he came back to the phone and he said, ‘Mr. Holloway, you’re probably the luckiest man on earth. For some reason, your dad took all his records – his original discharge document, his original enlistment papers – all of it – and he had it put in our office, ‘”Al said.
Armed with those documents, Al went back to the Personnel Records Center. They learned Staff Sgt. Homer Holloway was involved in operations in the Admiralty Islands in the Pacific, and the Leyte invasion in the Philippines. He had been awarded a Combat Infantry Badge first award, and was entitled to a Bronze Star, a National Defense Service Ribbon, and an Asia-Pacific ribbon.
They also suggested Al reach out to the Philippines consulate, which granted his dad more honors for his service there.
“One was a Civic Action Award for taking care of the Philippine people after they removed the Japanese,” Al said.
It’s family history and family pride.
“It means that (my dad) – and a few million other people – did some really extraordinary things, and they took some unbelievably dangerous chances doing it,” Al said.
For Al, who also served in the Army, worked in law enforcement, and now volunteers with the Civil Air Patrol, it’s also a reminder of the lessons from his father, and all of the Greatest Generation. Lessons he feels are too easily forgotten.
“I was taught to do what was right, what was honest, what was fair, and what was just,” he said.
Al will officially accept his father’s Bronze Star and other honors in a ceremony 1 pm Monday, June 27th, at the Kansas National Guard Museum at Forbes Field.
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