There are many reasons why I decided to share stories from the various branches of my family. One of the best is meeting strangers who turn out to be distant relations. And things get even better when they have family stories to tell. What better way to remember and honour people forgotten by history than by sharing snippets of their history!
Michelle, a distant relation on the Roane side of my family, had a great story to share about one of her direct ancestors, Melvin Harrison Schools, who passed away quite recently. Melvin was a Roane through his mother, Bertha M. Roane (whose sister Lucinda also married into the Roane family too). His family tree follow below in order to place him into a wider context in the Roane family.
The Virginia-born Melvin was an early recipient of the GI Bill which funded his further educational studies in 1950s America.
The article below is courtesy of Michelle – many thanks for sharing this!
The first thought I had after reading the article was that this was a man who had been though quite a bit in the Korean conflict, a war which was never really covered in school. Clearly, this man was made of stern stuff considering the horrific injuries he suffered and the bravery he showed in the face of war.
I hadn’t realised that as late as the Korean War, there were still Negro-only war units. I don’t know why but I assumed that military units were no longer segregated after WWII…which clearly wasn’t the case. I guess I based this assumption on television shows like Mash, which seemed to portray an integrated military.
An early recipient of this support for war veterans, Melvin’s awards and numerous citations does show a shift in the perception of blacks serving in the military.
I also wondered if Melvin and distant cousin Fred Clifton Sheffey crossed paths during this conflict. They all served in Korea at the same time. While it’s highly improbable they would have known they were related to one other, serendipity is a funny old thing and any of these three men could have met one another.
My last thought was around the notion of service. Military service, the teaching profession and the medical field seems to have drawn enough of my ancestors to become statistically interesting; especially amongst the Roanes and the Sheffeys.
Melvin’s obituary provides more insight into a truly remarkable man: http://www.timesdispatch.com/obituaries/featured/melvin-h-schools-sr-of-tappahannock-decorated-korean-war-veteran/article_8cf6840e-3956-59c0-a42c-08d9c45dabaa.html
Melvin Schools family tree: