There are a lot of things Windell Boggess will talk about. He’s a friendly, good natured fellow. Likes to chat, especially around the VFW Post where he’s the handyman—and life member since 1954.
Perhaps Windell’s amiableness comes from his rural upbringing in Ripley, West Virginia. Think Mayberry. Front porch swings. Saturday mornings down at the barber shop. Sunday picnics after church. Places where good folk gather to be sociable and swap stories.
But after the Korean War, there are some stories Windell Boggess won’t share with anyone. There are some things he saw–and did–that are in the past he says. “I try to wipe those things out of my mind.”
While growing up, serving in the military was a Boggess family tradition. Only one of the seven Boggess brothers did not serve. Back then, Windell says, if you didn’t serve it was a “stain on your character.” So, “being a veteran is important to me. I felt it was my duty. It taught me how to do for myself.”
When Post Chaplain Joe Mavero called to invite us to interview veterans at VFW Post 128 in Rochester, PA, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to preserve more Beaver County stories. After Commander Tom Crawford and the Post’s executive board generously reserved a quiet space for us in the building, we set up a two-day recording event July 21-22, 2014. Over two days we captured the stories of three veterans representing Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.
VFW Post 128 sits on Rochester’s Virginia Avenue, high above the Ohio River valley. It is a spacious location, with reception hall and meeting rooms. In addition to being the home to the Rochester VFW Ladies Auxiliary, the Post hosts Chapter 862 of Vietnam Veterans of America, the largest VVA chapter in Pennsylvania and second in the nation.
“We’re thankful that Post 128’s leadership recognizes the importance of preserving the stories of their members,” said Kevin Farkas, director of Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh. “They understand the historical significance of what their members experienced and the importance of giving each veteran a chance to tell his or her story in their own words so that future generations of Americans will better understand and appreciate their service.”
KEYWORDS: 38TH PARALLEL (KOREA); AIRBORNE (ARMY); ARMY; FT MEADE, MD; FT. BENNING; FT. INDIANTOWN GAP, PA; FT. KNOX, KY; INCHEON; JAPAN; KOJE-DO PRISONER CAMP; KOREAN WAR; LE VAHN, SGT. GORDON J; OLD BALDY (KOREA); POINTER, LT; PORK CHOP MOUNTAIN (KOREA); RIPLEY, WV; ROCHESTER, PA; S-4 DIVISION; SASEBO, JAPAN; SEATTLE, WA; SELECTIVE SERVICE (DRAFT); SEOUL; VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS (VFW); VFW POST 128
After being drafted into the Army during the Korean War, Windell Boggess thought it might be interesting to be a paratrooper. Not so much, he learned. So, the Army sent him to Korea anyway and he served on the front lines near the 38th Parallel. “I was a replacement for a replacement,” he says. “We lost a lot of guys. There was no sense in getting to know anyone very well.”