Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why did he move?

Sometime before or during the Tennessee Maneuvers in March of 1944 Hopkins was moved from the 517th to the 513th PIR.  We are not sure exactly why or when he was moved, but one story we have heard from several sources was that Hopkins was in a fight with a guy.  When he swung, he missed and punched a wall which broke his wrist.  He later claimed, and had guys back his story, that he had fallen roller skating so he would not get into trouble over the incident.

One other clue we have for Hopkin’s broken wrist is from a letter that Ruby saved from her brother Guy D. Rogers who was also serving in the war.  He says “…I’m sorry to hear that Johnny, having his wrist broke…”  Guy's letter was dated 15 June 1944.  Ruby must have written to her brother about what ever happened to Hopkins.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Becoming a Paratrooper ~ not an easy task

From my research on the 17th Airborne Division I learned that the 513th PRCT was born 26 December 1942 and the 517th PRCT was born 15 March 1943.  Men that signed up to try to become a paratrooper were sent first to Camp Toccoa, Georgia for screening, interviews and qualifying for infantry, artillery or engineers.  Once the men were assigned they were sent to Camp Mackall, North Carolina for jump training and more.  Once the unit was filled they were sent as a whole to Fort Benning, Georgia for parachute qualification and more training.

To become a paratrooper, you had to be in top physical condition, no broken bones, be an excellent marksman, and a weapons expert.  My Grandpa John S. Hopkins, according to his son, John L. Hopkins, John S. was a “catcher for the Atwater High School Baseball Team.  In fielding a low pitch, he broke the small finger on his right hand. It healed with a crook in it…he was selected as a member of the first true paratrooper unit. He had to hide the broken finger by keeping all his left hand fingers curled during the physicals.”

From an email from the great General Seitz, to John in 2007, “I have, after sixty odd years, and with over 800 men in…my battalion a faint picture of your fine father. I remember that I did interview your dad for admission to my 2nd battalion. I pause here to tell you I interviewed over three thousand potential men and selected only eight hundred. You[r] Dad was one of those eight hundred…one thing I can tell you is that you[r] Dad was a fine young man in tip top physical shape and good appear[ance] or he would not have been one of the 800 I selected.”

John S. also told John L. about some of his training, “his CO…used him as a company clerk since he could type.  This same CO would have my father take new recruits ‘to the dump’. Meaning a five mile run, just to see what they were made of.  One recruiter came back from the run totally undaunted. They went for a second, and a third time.  At his point, my father was a bit “run down”.  Seems the new recruit was a marathon runner!”

To achieve your jump wings means a lot. You have become an expert with your weapons and an expert marksman. You had to be in excellent physical condition. You had to be the toughest of the tough, if not you weren’t good enough.  They chose their men so carefully they had NO ONE wash out; setting a record that has stood to this day. These men were the best of the best, I am proud to be the Granddaughter of a Paratrooper of the 17th Airborne Division.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

You Just Need to Look

I am going to deviate from my topic of the month here, because when you find these things by accident, you just need to talk about them.  In researching in Portage County, Ohio you don't have many choices in the early days, 1800-1820...So imagine my surprise to find in a Surname folder at the Portage County Historical Society original and copies of Court documents that are no longer supposed to exist.  Below is one wonderful tidbit of time.  I am sure you have all heard, you never know what you'll find when you are researching or as's shakey leaves tell you: you don't need to know what you are looking for :)


Portage County Historical Society, Ravenna, Ohio

Surname Vertical Files


“State of Ohio


William A []”


“State of Ohio

Portage County

At a Court of Common Pleas holden at

Ravenna within and for the County of

Portage on the fourth Tuesday of December Anno Domini

one thousand eight hundred and nine - The Grand Jurors

returned to enquin for the body of the County of Portage

on their oaths do present that William A [] of

Deerfield Township in the County aforesaid did at Deerfield

aforesaid on the fifteenth eleventh day of December Anno Domini 1809

one thousand eight hundred and nine commitly wickedly

and with lewdly with foner and ams have carnal knowledge of one Loveey

Jacobs and commit the crime of fornication with her the

said Loveey Jacobs a single and unmarried woman then and there being - And the Jurors affo=

rsaid on the first day of November in the year of our

Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine commitly lewed=

ly and wickedly with force and [illegible word] live and hath continually afterwards at

Deerfield aforesaid until the day of the taking of this

inquisition commitly lewdly and wickedly lived in a State

of fornication with the same Loveey Jacobs a single and unmarried woman in contempt

of this State and its Laws to the evil example of all

others and against the peace and dignity of the State of


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Hopkins Family

This is the Oliver Hopkins Family.   I thought maybe you should meet them all as they will probably end up at some point in the story.  Oliver Hopkins and Rose Stine met and married in Akron, Ohio while working at Goodyear.  Oliver was born in Slate, Wood County, West Virginia and Rose was born in Sardis, Monroe County, Ohio.  Oliver and Rose had ten children: Ova Alberta, Orville Oren aka Bud, John Sheridan, Ruth Inez, Clarence Donald, Paul Eugene, Anna May, Jack Douglas, Harry Lewis and Alice Fay (listed in birth order).  Many of the children were born in different places, Parkersburg, West Virginia, Woodsfield, Ohio, Akron, Ohio, and Atwater, Ohio.  Oliver worked at Goodyear and was a preacher for the Church of Christ in a few different churches through the years.  Bud and John both served in World War II. Bud served in the Navy.

I'll always be grateful that I knew my Great Grandma Rose and sad I was never able to meet my Great Grandfather Oliver.  I had ten years with Rose and she impacted those few years a lot.   I remember going to visit her and listening to the stories of her growing up.  I still remember one visit when she told us about how when the snow got too deep in Woodsfield they'd hook the horses up to the sleigh and ride around in the winter wonderland all bundled up.  To me it sounded like great fun.  She attended every birthday party and every holiday event as well as every Sunday morning at church.  She couldn't write well due to her ever increasing Parkinson's disease, so she would type notes, cards and letters to us.  I love coming across those notes she wrote to us.  Things for us to remember and hold on to.  Rose almost lived to her 91st birthday.  She was a special treasure to our family.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

From the U.S. Paratroops with Love


"I thought that you

would like to know

that someone's

thoughts go

where you go

That someone never

can forget

The hours we spent

since first we met

And now my constant

prayer will be

That GOD may keep

you safe for me."

John S. Hopkins sent home three scarves to Ruby E. Rogers while he was stationed at Camp Mackall, North Carolina.  This one has no date stamped on it, but the return address and the rubber stamp over the postage stamps state Camp Mackall, North Carolina as the departure.  At this time during John's enlistment, he was in the Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 517 Parachute Infantry Regiment.

At some point before March of 1943 John was transferred to the 513th Parachute Infantry Regiment, still under the 17th Airborne Division.  We are not 100% sure of the reason, but one theory is because he broke his wrist.  According to Ruby, he was in a fight and a missed punch hit the wall and his wrist broke.  He used the excuse of breaking it roller skating so he could avoid trouble.  Paratroopers had to be in tip top physical shape and could not have any broken bones.


Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jumping & not always landing where you wanted to...

According to John S. Hopkins, he is the guy on the left with the little x under him.  The back of the photo states the following: "That x is me and that picture was taken on one of my jumps, the one where I had to make a true landing. It was taken by one of my buddies, Willard Wyatt Ogden, Utah. I hit a big pine not shown but off to the left of the picture. Johnny"

It is quite fun looking through these photos of John practicing his jumps.  This is the only place so far where he has mentioned some of the men he served with.  In another photo, he mentions his best buddy Private Weber.  A highlight of my year in 2007, I found Private Weber, you can imagine my happy dance when he wrote back.  We exchanged a letter or two and let me say it was very exciting to find him.  I was never able to find Willard.  But don't forget, any little clue you find is worth tracking down, you never know where it could lead to next.


Friday, February 1, 2013

Times Were Different

So going through and pulling all I have out on my Grandpa's life was quite fun, but I also started a list of questions to ask my Grandma the next time I saw her.  It is a good thing she loves me and doesn't run when I say, "I just have a couple questions Grandma".  Today I had a chance to ask her a few things.  Over the years we have found some random postcards that Grandpa had written to her while he was enlisted.  One of them was written shortly after he enlisted.

So my first question was: "Grandma did you know that Grandpa enlisted or was this a surprise postcard?"  Grandma said that she did know he was going to, they were in school together and he wanted "no part of graduation".    I then asked her how much she had seen or heard from Grandpa before he was shipped over seas.  She then looked at me and told me "the world was a lot different back then" you couldn't come and go like we do now.  (smile) She knows I like things yesterday!  She said she only saw him once before he was shipped overseas and never actually knew where he was until after the war.  She just wrote to APO addresses and he wasn't allowed to say where he was the few letters that made it home. It was a long time in between updates and learning what was happening.