By DANNY HENLEY
Posted Hannibal.net Aug. 18, 2009
A photo of four men in uniform, a small pin with four blue stars and two silver dollars. To the average person, such mementoes wouldn’t be worth a great deal. But to former U.S. Marine Wallace Reed, they are a priceless heirloom.
Reed was one of four brothers who served in a branch of the military during World War II. His oldest brother, Clifford, was drafted into the U.S. Army. Two other brothers, Roger and Virgel, made a career for themselves in the Army Air Corps and Navy, respectively.
The prized photo features Reed, who joined the Corps when he was 17 years old, and his three brothers when they were all home on leave in November, 1945.
The silver dollars were mementoes he had intended to wind up in the hands of a pair of siblings who were still at home.
“You didn’t see silver dollars so I was going to give one to my younger brother and one to my younger sister, and I did,” said Reed, who brought the dollars home in November 1942, shortly before being shipped overseas where he participated in numerous island-seizing campaigns in the Pacific.
After Reed’s departure, his mother took the silver dollars, placed them on the family’s Philco upright radio, covered them with a doily and then put a lamp on top.
That’s where the dollars remained until Reed surprised his mother when he came home on leave shortly before his four-year tour of duty was up.
“After all the hugging, she took me to the radio and showed me that she had never moved them,” said Reed, choking back tears.
The other prized item in the frame is the four-star blue pin. Each star represented a son that the family had serving in the military during the war.
“She (Reed’s mother) died about 20 years ago when she was 94 years old,” he said. “My oldest sister had my mother’s belongings and this was the only thing I requested, that pin.”
While cherished by Reed, those items remained in a box in his Cambridge, Md., home until his daughter, Debbie McKay of Hannibal, paid a visit. She dug out the items and had them mounted and framed.
“This is very sentimental,” said Reed of the remembrances.