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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Richard Joseph Flanagan - Part 6

At different times in Dick's life, he worked on farms, in road construction, as a truck driver, and a few other miscellaneous things.  I am not sure of the exact timeline of the various occupations for Dick throughout his life.  He definitely worked on the Flanagan Ranch as a teen and may have actually helped keep the books for the property later in his life as the older generation of Flanagan's (Pat and Kate Flanagan's children) aged and still lived there.

Dick did get paid to play baseball.  Just after high school, he played in the minor leagues around Northern California.  This would have been the 1930s.  His pay check was rather lean in those days.  I seem to remember Dick telling me that he worked on road construction at one point down in the hot desert of Southern California.  I'm not sure what roadway or highway that he might have worked on.  He recalled that it was hot and the asphalt that they were pouring made it even hotter.  Another job that he had was as a driver for Basalt.  Basalt was a rock company in Napa. 

I do know that Dick joined the U.S. Army during WWII.  I'm not sure of his exact enlistment date.  I have looked over his military paperwork in the past.  As many young men at this time, it was an important commitment for many to enlist in the military and not just be drafted.  Dick was 32 years old and married when he joined the Army.

While I was never in the military, I did essentially work for them.  It was very much an important part of my job to know the rank of an individual and how to address them.  After Dick passed away, I remember looking at his military paperwork and taking notice that he was a Staff Sergeant.  Knowing that not everyone can be an officer, especially if you don't have a college degree, entering the military at the level of Staff Sergeant is pretty impressive.   I recognize that it was war time and the military needed everyone that they could get but most people went in at the entry level as a Private.

My mother's response to my inquiry about how he ended up with the rank of Staff Sergeant when he had just joined the military was simple.  He was not a kid.  At 32 years old, his previous jobs and life experience made him a candidate for higher than average enlisted ranked position.  I believe that he worked in he motor-pool and drove a truck during WWII.  He was stationed in Nice, France.  He also seems to have gone by the name of RJ while in the military.

Dick Flanagan circa 1944


Dick did tell me only passing bits and pieces of his time in France during WWII.  He said that he'd go to church on Sundays where the priest would say mass in more than one language.  It was war time but he did mention that Nice was a beautiful place.  Dick was near the action during the war but never really talked about it.

At some point, I need to go through Dick's military papers again.  When the war ended, he was honorably discharged and went back home to his wife in Napa, California.  He did not choose a military type burial or even a color guard at his funeral.  That was certainly his choice.

More to come on Dick's occupations.....................

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