There is an old saying that goes, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
I am proud of the stand my family has made for freedom and democracy over the past 150 plus years.
As I reflect on Veterans Day, I can’t help but remember the dozens of combined family members in my husband’s family and mine who have sacrificed so much to keep America the great place she is. With much pride I would like to share a little about some of our military family with you.
Our first known soldier for America was Jacob Carolus who, in 1861 at the age of 19, enlisted in the 4th Regiment Ohio Calvary to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War. Wounded at Bradyville in 1863, he recovered and returned to battlefields only to be mortally wounded at Elam Creek in 1864. He father, Emanuel Carolus, followed his son into the fray in 1862 at the age of 45 and survived to be mustered out in 1865. Emanuel was my great-great-grandfather. Jacob was my great-great-uncle.
John Louis Schlegel, grandfather of my husband Larry, enlisted in the Air Corps in 1915 during World War I. After basic training, John became quite ill and was unable to accompany his unit on their assigned mission. As his fellow soldiers were crossing the Atlantic, their ship sank and all were lost at sea. John survived by God’s grace to become the ancestor of an extensive Schlegel family.
World War II began, and so many of our family members served that I will not name them all except to say that in our immediate families there were at least 15 men and women who fought for this country in that conflict. Among them, my father Donald Carolus who served three years, much of it in India supporting and protecting the vital Burma Road. My father in law, Charles Sidener, also served for three years and took part in some of the biggest and bloodiest battles in the South Pacific. We thank God for His hand of protection on these two men who made our lives possible upon their return to America.
Our Greatest Generation heroes also include my Uncle Charles Carolus who was killed along with his crew as he piloted a glider plane over the Philippine Islands while training for the invasion of Japan in 1945. Another uncle, Robert Wolfe, fought in the European Theater and was instrumental in rebuilding major bridges destroyed by the enemy including one over the Rhine River in Germany. His battalion received commendations for their efforts that allowed 1,600 vehicles with equipment vital to the war to cross the river.
The need for warriors is a never-ending tale even in peacetime. And so, in the early 1950s, my husband’s Uncle Edward Schlegel enlisted in the U.S. Navy. While stationed in Florida assigned to the USS Antietam as a Naval Aviator, Edward and his crew took off on a night patrol to search for enemy submarines off the coast of Florida and were never heard from or seen again. Neither the plane nor any of the crew were ever found.
We have had several family members who served during the Korean War and the war in Vietnam. Vietnam hit particularly close to home as many of my high school classmates and family members were involved over there including two of my brothers-in-law, several cousins and close friends. Though they didn’t receive much praise for their service, we know that the soldiers who fought in Vietnam made great sacrifices as they battled a particularly difficult enemy. They are deserving of our thanks and loyalty for their service to our country.
Our family members continue to step up and protect America just as their ancestors did so many years ago. Here is just a small sampling of the more recent generation who have served and who continue to serve:
Lt. Col. Howard “Sonny” Carolus, US Air Force, retired. After a long and distinguished career in the Air Force, Sonny retired from the military and worked for the Defense Department as a consultant until his untimely death at age 66. He was the great-great-grandson of Emanuel Carolus.
James A. “Jay” Blewitt, U.S. Marine Corps veteran; Army National Guard, retired. Served all over the world including Japan, Nicaragua, Alaska and China; his deployments included Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Jay’s father, James Blewitt, is a Marine Corps veteran as is Jay’s son, Christopher Blewitt. Jay is the great-great-great-grandson of Emanuel Carolus.
James P. “Jimmy” Wibright, U.S. Air Force, retired. Served in Turkey; flew extensively all over the world with the Secretary of Defense; worked with NATO in Germany; flew numerous protective missions over Washington, D.C. and New York City in the days following Sept. 11; worked search and rescue in Iraq and Afghanistan; now works for a civilian company doing search and rescue and deploys to the Middle East.
James W. Wibright, father of James P. Wibright, retired after 20 years in the U.S. Air Force. Jimmy’s daughter, Chelsea Kallis, currently holds the rank of captain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and her husband, Capt. Nick Kallis, is active duty training to be a pilot. James P. is the great-great-great-grandson of Emanuel Carolus.
Paul Baker, U.S. Air Force, retired. Held a variety of leadership positions in the intelligence field; served in Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom; most recently worked with a civilian agency in the intelligence field. His father, P. David Baker, is a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard. Paul is the great-great-great-grandson of Emanuel Carolus.
Joshua Stevely, U.S. Marine Corps. Served at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a guard; served in Iraq; now a civilian. Joshua’s father, Bryan Stevely, is a U.S. Air Force veteran, and his grandfather, Ronnie Stevely, is a Navy vet. Joshua is the great-great-grandson of John Louis Schlegel.
If you see me wear the colors of our country and fly the flag of our great nation, if you hear me defend the Constitution and try with all my might to keep America the free nation that we’ve always known, it is because of these people who I love and admire along with all the hundreds of thousands of others who have given of themselves and sacrificed to keep America free! God bless them all!