Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings
by Cate Murway
Though there are still some who insist it should be referred to as the "Korean Conflict" or a police action because the participants never officially declared "war," the most well respected men who served our country, our veterans, would never disagree that the fighting in Korea between 1950 and 1953 was as bitter as any war. The Korean War has been dubbed "The Forgotten War," being overshadowed by the more current memories of Vietnam, Desert Storm and the anniversary commemorations of World War II.
On June 25, 1950, the North Koreans crossed the 38th parallel and entered South Korea. The U. S. forces were shocked initially and absorbed the attack while withdrawing to the south.
FT3 Fire Control Technician Third Class [rating insignia for a Petty Officer Third Class is a white perched eagle above a red chevron] George Thomas Edmondson, Minersville H.S. ’50 grew up in the coal-mining town of Minersville, nestled in the mountains of eastern PA in Schuylkill County. It was exceptional for its large deposits of high quality anthracite coal, burning hotter and cleaner than other types of coal. Mining peaked just before WWI and even though life as a miner was hard, jobs were plentiful and dependent on mining. The tough landscape both perfectly mirrored and shaped the character of the people. Towards the end of WWII, the area started experiencing increasing economic and social dislocations as the result of the continuing decline of the entire coal mining industry. Mineral deposits became exhausted and technological and economic changes brought about extensive mine closures. George spent his childhood leisure time playing in his own version of an "ol' swimmin' hole", a deep, clear cold water-filled-in “Strippin’ Hole”. Strip mining is only practical when the ore body to be excavated is relatively near the surface. According to George, bathing suits were not required!
He played football in school and baseball with his friends, delivered grocery store circulars, and worked at the nearby Globe dance hall selling refreshments.
He loved math and strapping on homemade skis, bombing down hills just hours after the big snowstorms. The most satisfying food memories are of the distinctive flavors of salty mackerel and slightly sweet blackstrap molasses bread and fire-roasted potatoes retrieved from the ashes of a bonfire.
There was no work, employment options were almost nil, so the week after H.S. graduation, he entered the Navy with seven of his closet chums from his graduating class under the “Minority Cruise” [enlist under the age of 18, obtain discharge the day before your 21st birthday]. The only friend who remained with him during his tour of duty of 3 years and 3 months was Lawrence Gallagher.
“Who knows what tomorrow brings
In a world, few hearts survive
All I know is the way I feel
When it's real, I keep it alive
The road is long, there are mountains in our way
But we climb a step every day”
Navy is often viewed as the service most flavored with the scent of adventure. Who wouldn't want to travel around the world on an enormous (or not so enormous) ship and see exotic locales such as Hawaii, Australia or Japan? The Navy supplies airplanes for the Marines, and carries the Army troop transports when necessary. He was on the path to test his physical strength, leadership abilities and technological prowess.
His family, late parents, James & Esther, his late siblings, Kenneth and Margaret and his sister Sally [her husband originally a Borough resident, Tony Ferraro] who live in Orlando, relocated to [ultimately] Dorrance Street to join relatives who lived on New Buckley Street after the mines had closed. His dad first found work with Shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser on Radcliffe Street and then Barker & Williamson [was located across from Thomas L. Leedom & Co., carpet mill], a recognized leader worldwide in the manufacture of the highest quality antennas and radio parts for military, commercial, emergency management and amateur use since 1932.
Check in, stand in line for everything, get uniforms, see the doctor, get a haircut, and report to assigned barracks. The Korean War started a week or so after he enlisted in the US Navy, so he was the first company with no leave after boot camp in the great lakes Navel Station, a formidable site situated on the banks of Lake Michigan in Illinois.
His first assignment was on The USS Kenneth D. Bailey DD-713 that had entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for modernization and conversion to a radar picket destroyer. George was part of the deck force painting and cleaning the interior and his responsibility included exterior maintenance of the ship for 6 months. His next opportunity was to attend fire control school in Washington, D.C., training for a year to learn his specialties of electronics and operating massive computers. Fire Control Operator training taught how to track targets and send information to the computer down below, or one was able to control it manually from above and assign weapons from the subs fire control system.
After the DD-713 ship left the dry-dock used for the construction, maintenance, and repair, George went to Cuba to test the repairs - Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, GTMO or “Gitmo” Bay, the oldest overseas U.S. Navy Base [known as Fisherman's Point in 1494 when Christopher Columbus landed there and was briefly renamed Cumberland Bay].
His next assignment was the USS Black (DD-666), a 2050-ton Fletcher class destroyer built at Kearny, NJ of the United States Navy, named for Lieutenant Commander Hugh D. Black (1903–1942), who was killed in action during the sinking of his ship, Jacob Jones (DD-130) in February 1942.
George was involved in no gun battles, Koreans didn’t have a Navy, but he was active in the shore bombardment of the Battle of Inchon Harbor, September 15-28, 1950 (code name: Operation Chromite). Because the harbor was so shallow and muddy, the timing of the invasion had to be synchronized precisely with the autumn high tides so the landing craft could make it to the shore without running aground on the mud flats. In spite of intelligence warning of the attack, the overextended North Korean army was unable to maintain a strong defense and the city fell with Allied losses of only 20 dead and 179 wounded. This was a decisive invasion and battle during the Korean War. USS Black continued her Korean operations until June 4,1953.
Some hang on to "used to be"
Live their lives, looking behind
All we have is here and now
All our life, out there to find
The road is long, there are mountains in our way,
But we climb them a step every day”
Once when he was on leave, he accompanied his friend, Jerry Farley to see his girlfriend and that was when he met his future wife, Beverly Ann [Rinaldo], Minersville H.S. ’53.
He returned to his ship and they continued building their relationship through the mail with letters. Bev saved every letter he wrote to her. “She didn’t throw anything away.”
“Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry on a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world we know, up where the clear winds blow”
From January 1953 until August 1953 he toured the Panana Canal, San Diego, Hawaii, Midway Island, then Singapore and Hong Kong, Japan; Cannes, France; Naples, Italy; Athens, Greece; and up the Suez Canal. Back to the U.S. and his last stop was Norfolk, VA. He was discharged and returned to Bristol. He and Beverly became engaged and were married in the First United Methodist Church on Mulberry Street in January 1954. They lived in Borough apartments and purchased several homes before they moved to their new construction Monroe Street home in 1973. He and his late wife had three children, James George, BHS ’72, Sharon Licci, BHS class of 75, and Laurie Garcia, BHS class of ’77 and have six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
His civilian career experiences included working at Kaiser metal, machine operations at Manhattan Soap Works on Radcliffe Street, a bundler at Enterprise Wallpaper in Penndel, and quality control in the Patterson Parchment Paper Company. George worked as a custodian in the Snyder-Girotti Elementary School for 13 years and is currently employed at Villa Joseph Marie H.S. in Holland, PA.
Modesty runs deep in his nature. Being such a conscientious, detail person, rarely overlooking anything, he is truly valued for his orderly pattern and systematic approach in his endeavors.
His favorite film is the 1982 “An Officer and a Gentleman” starring Richard Gere, Debra Winger and Louis Gossett, Jr., the story of a U.S. Navy aviation Officer Candidate who comes into conflict with the Marine Corps Gunnery Sergeant who trains him. The original music score, his most loved song, Oscar winning "Up Where We Belong", was composed by Jack Nitzsche and Buffy Sainte-Marie.
“Time goes by
No time to cry
Life's you and I
[“Up Where We Belong” lyrics ]
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George T. Edmondson
Bucks County Courier Times
George T. (Pep) Edmondson of Bristol died Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, at Neshaminy Manor Nursing Home after a courageous battle with prostate cancer, with his family by his side. He was 78.
He was born in Minersville, Pa. and resided most of his life in Bristol.
He was a veteran of the Korean War.
After serving his country he worked at Patterson Parchment for 28 years in the Quality Control department and later for the Bristol Boro School District in the maintenance department.
George was preceded in death by his wife, Beverly Anne (Rinaldo); his parents, James and Esther (Frey) Edmondson; his sister, Margaret Whiteman and brother, Kenneth Edmondson.
He is survived by his children, James Edmondson (Barbara) of Spring, Texas, Sharon Cordisco-Licci (George) of Jamison, Pa., and Laurie Ann Garcia (Rafael) of Bristol; six grandchildren: Kelly Talley (Scott), John Cordisco (Johanna), Nicole Cordisco, Michael George Dugan, Michael and Andrew Edmondson (Mistie); 10 great-grandchildren: Kyle, Isabella, Sofia and John Cordisco, Lauryn Talley, Michael, Kaila and Seth Dugan, Aubrie and Sophia Edmondson; a sister, Sally Ferraro (Tony) of Orlando, Fla.; a sister-in-law, Rosalie Rumph and brother-in-law, Thomas Rinaldo and Elizabeth Edmondson; along with nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends, especially his beloved dog, Holly.
Family and friends are invited to attend his viewing on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011 from 8:30 a.m. to time of his service at 10:30 a.m. at Molden Funeral Chapel, 133 Otter Street, Bristol. Interment will immediately follow in Pine Grove Cemetery in Warminster.
In lieu of flowers, donations in George's name may be made to the American Cancer Society, Bucks Unit, 700 Horizon Circle, Suite 201, Chalfont, PA 18914.
To sign the guestbook or send condolences please visit the Web address below. Molden Funeral Chapel,
February 10, 2011 2:51 AM