Junior B. Reese, a resident of the Blake community and Korean War veteran, says members of his family have served in the United States military since World War I.
Spanning five generations, including his father, brothers, sons, grandson and great-grandson, Reese keeps a wall in his living room dedicated to pictures of the family members that have served in the Marines Corps., Coast Guard, Army, Navy and Air Force.
Reese was serving overseas in the Korean War with the Air Force when the conflict ended in 1953.
“I drove a truck, but we were versatile over there,” he said. “We’d load those airplanes with bombs, or you’d help with whatever they needed.”
After a truck accident, Reese was transported to a Japanese hospital in Osaka Nagoya where he received surgery for his injuries.
“I was over there when the war ended,” he said. “It was kind of funny, I was sitting up in a bed in the hospital when they announced it. I had been in a truck wreck and messed up my arm, and they had to operate on it. I was driving a load of workers, and I had a wreck.”
It was 3 a.m. when Reese said he heard them announce the cease-fire.
During his year and a half overseas, Reese said what he remembers most is the intense poverty that he witnessed.
“The only thing that really stands out was the country was so poor,” he said. “It was pathetic. I’ve seen little orphan kids pile up in a corner of a house on each other trying to stay warm, with no clothes. That was tragic. Your heart goes out to kids like that. It was unreal.”
This Veterans Day, Reese wanted to honor the men from his family that served through the years by recognizing his wall of family veteran photographs. In the living room of his home, Reese hung eight photographs of the members of his fifth generation military family.
He said his father, William Jefferson Reese, was traveling on a train to report to his duty station when Armistice was called for the end of WWI, his brothers, Gladsden Reese, Darial U.J. Reese and Elyn Reese, served during WWII, his sons, Mitchell Wade Reese and Jeffrey B. Reese served stateside, his grandson, Richard Jason Howe, was injured while serving in the Middle East, and now, his great-grandson, Jeffrey Howe, has also joined the military.
The 87-year-old veteran said his wife, Carolyn, passed away six years ago but is still his daily motivation.
“That is my life-line,” he said. “I have my daughter and her husband living here after my wife died. I tried it alone a batch, but it’s just tough, so I’ve got them in here now. We’ve got a pretty good relationship.”
Reese said he is proud of the veterans in his family and wants people to think about the veterans in their own family this time of year.