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Family service ties four wars together PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Lee   

It’s not too often a family can tie World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War and the War in Iraq together. For the Reynolds and Wisdom families—they can.

Their service dates span over 90 years, and the family members are humbled by the service they have given.

From a grandson who recently ended his service to a grandfather who served during World War I and another grandfather who served in World War II, the Reynolds and Wisdom families can tie four historic wars together.

“I guess I’m proud of it,” Chas Reynolds said of his family being able to connect the wars.

His son, Jason, entered the service in January 2002 to become a third-generation service member. “I never pressured Jason,” Chas said. “I asked him one time why he went in. His response to me was, ‘That’s just what we do.’”

Chas, who served during the Vietnam War, said they didn’t really talk about it much before Jason enlisted, which was right after 9/11.

Claude Reynolds, Chas’ father, served in World War I. Chas’ father-in-law, Donald Wisdom, served in World War II.

“There aren’t too many people that are alive that can say that,” Reynolds said.

Chas was a chaplain’s assistant in the God Squad while serving in Korea in 1969-70. He served in Dongducheon (also sometimes spelled Tongduchon) at Camp Hovey and Camp Casey 40 miles north of Seoul, South Korea.

His duties included securing the church and office, driving the chaplain wherever he needed to go, helping with services, helping in the secretary’s office and sometimes serving as a body guard.

He noted his family doesn’t really talk about their service. He didn’t really enjoy serving but knows he was better off than many of his comrades.

“Looking back on it, I had an expense paid vacation compared to the other guys,” Reynolds said. “They went through hell and I didn’t. I was also 20 years old and not doing what I wanted to be doing.”

He said there were good points and bad points during his service.

“Soldiers that stepped up and did what they thought was right for their country were put down for it,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds and wife Jackie live in Sterling. They lived in Holyoke from 1994-2004. Chas still commutes to Holyoke every week for his accounting service.

Chas’ father, Claude Reynolds, who was born in 1896, served in WWI as a bugler for the Army. He entered toward the end of WWI. Claude was in the United States and on his way to war when it ended, according to Chas.

Chas didn’t even know of his father’s service until doing some genealogy research. “He never talked about it,” he noted.

Jason Reynolds, Chas’ son and a 2001 HHS graduate, was in the service from 2002-10. He spent most of that time in the Reserves in the National Guard. Three and half years were spent in active duty which included two tours in Iraq as a combat engineer.

He said he worked with route clearance and at foreign operative bases.

He joined not for the recognition, but for the challenge of it. He looks back at his service as a job. “It was the right thing to do,” Jason said. Having a father and two grandfathers who served, Jason said he sort of grew up in the culture. “It’s a special thing for people in my family.”

As people know, war isn’t always fun. Like Jason said, it’s a job and jobs aren’t always fun. He said he wasn’t always happy but his service gave him a unique perspective on life in general.

When thinking back, he knew he wanted to serve and do it well. It’s something he knows he accomplished.

Jason now lives in Denver where he is working on his engineering degree and working for a geotechnical engineering firm. His job consists of working with water infrastructure.

Donald Wisdom, Chas’ father-in-law and Jason’s grandpa, was in WWII and served in North Africa and Italy. His truck company, where he served as a mechanic, serviced Major General Patton in north Africa.

Wisdom was also involved with the invasion of Italy at Salerno.

He entered the service in 1942 after beginning junior college in Sterling. When he quit school, he was drafted. Wisdom said it probably wouldn’t have mattered if he quit school or not, he would’ve most likely been drafted either way. “And the rest is history,” he said. His service ended in 1945.

“I’m humbled by it,” Wisdom said when thinking about his tie to the Reynolds family and knowing his son-in-law and grandson have served in the military. “It’s an honor to be a veteran.”

He is also very appreciative of those who are currently serving for the United States.

Wisdom grew up south of Haxtun and has lived there his entire life—minus his service time. He helps out when he can with his son’s poultry business. The 90-year-old said he is involved with the American Legion and VFW.

Two years ago, Wisdom was one of 119 veterans who went on the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to visit the WWII memorial. “It was quite impressive,” Wisdom said. He noted there were WWII vets as old as 96 and most were 85 and older.

The trip touched Wisdom so much he encourages other WWII veterans to look into signing up and attending.

Although the men of this family aren’t ones to toot their own horn about their service, they are proud of what they have done.


Holyoke Enterprise November 10, 2011