Tuesday, September 12, 2017

John Veckly, Jr. and The Forgotten War

Through my ancestral research, I've reconnected with my mother's cousin Jane, who is my closest living connection to the Voegtly family. I'm so glad that I was able to track her down, rather randomly actually, through a letter I found when I quickly stepped into my home office to grab my slippers, since it was so chilly today. I noticed this single letter sitting on my desk amidst all the boxes and piles of paper, practically shouting at me to pick it up.

I don't recall seeing this letter before, or setting it aside, but there it was. I grabbed it and brought it downstairs to continue my online research later, but a clue written on the outside of the envelope by my mother led me to wonder. It was probably an hour or two later when I found an email address for one of Jane's sons and I sent him a hopeful email. It was only minutes later that he wrote back and confirmed I had the right person.

This found letter was sent to my mom in 1978 from her cousin, Jane, letting my mom know that her uncle, Jane's father, John Voegtly, Jr., had died. On the front and back of the envelope, my mother had written the key to unsolving a mystery that has stumped me for several months. It was almost as if she knew someone (maybe me) would be looking for this after her death.

Her notes said simply "My cousin Jane – daughter of my Uncle John (VOEGTLY), mother's brother – he changed his to VECKLY. I've been searching for months for Voegtly, not Veckly, and as soon as I entered the correct spelling, it was almost scary what I could find online. And I couldn't be happier.

I also found out that my mother's only other first cousin, Jane's brother, was killed in the Korean War when he was only 20 years old. He was a Marine like my dad was. And for awhile he was stationed at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA, where I lived right after college, renting a room from a Marine wife whose husband was stationed in Okinawa for six months. Interesting to have that connection so many decades later. When we were kids my family went to visit Arlington Cemetery and I wonder now if we looked for his tombstone. I found the details of his service and a copy of his tombstone that I wanted to share.

Private First Class Veckly was a member of Company D, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in Korea on November 1, 1951 and posthumously received the National Defense Service Medal, the Korean Presidential Unit Citation and the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. "Jack" Veckly was stationed at Parris Island, then Camp Pendleton, and traveled to Korea in the Summer of 1951.


  1. That's such a tragedic store,it brought tears to my eyes.Sometimes people has to die in war without being guilty and that's exactly happened to john veckly Jr.

  2. Is there a way to email me privately? We may be related.

  3. My grandfather passed his Korean war album to me. In it I found the memorial service flier containing Pfc Veckley's information. If you would like photographs of the flier, please e-mail me, jiggetyj@hotmail.com semper fidelis PFC Veckley, you are not forgotten.

  4. This may seem incredible but my father, Christian Kranenberg, was John Veckly's BAR teammate in Korea from the onset of their arrival in early September, 1951. They fought side by side in the Punchbowl battles at Hills 749 and 812 during mid-September, 1951. My father recalled how John Veckly died. After taking Hill 749, the 2nd Battalion (Dog, Easy, and Fox Companies) defended the hill. Each company rotated manning the MLR (main line of resistance) several weeks at a time. Dog Company was on the MLR and after a small battle the night before, a Chinese soldier stranded and hiding beyond the MLR surrendered the following afternoon. The platoon officer asked for four volunteers to retrieve the soldier. John Veckly was one of those volunteers. Barbed wire was strung along the MLR in front of the trenches and bunkers built by the Marines. Several sections of the barbed wire could be moved aside to access the area beyond the MLR. These sections had trip wires running a few inches off the ground inside the barbed wire as a defense if the enemy breached an access area. As the group approached the access point, a Marine accidentally caught the trip wire with his boot and a Claymore mine was detonated. The explosion killed John Veckly and seriously wounded two other Marines. My father said it was a tragic incident that was particularly difficult for Dog Company to come to terms with.

    1. Wow, I'm sorry I haven't had time to be on my blog for a long time and I'm just seeing this. I can't tell you how touched I am that you would find this post and tell me about how he died. Since my parents are both gone I had no one to ask. Do you have any photos of your dad with the rest of the men? I would love to do a follow up post on this if you would allow. Is there any write up of this anywhere in military records? You can reach me at sarahambrose1@gmail.com if you would be willing to share more.