EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 6, 2013

Like sons, like father As his boys head off to WWII, dad finds way to join them

GEORGETOWN — In some military families, each generation corresponds to services in a war: grandpa in World War II, dad in Vietnam, and a son or daughter in Iraq. It’s less common, however, to have two generations actively serving during the same war.

Yet that’s exactly what happened to the Spofford family of Georgetown when Harold M. Spofford, then 49, enlisted in 1943, joining the military services with his two sons, Roland in the Navy and Harold B. in the Army.

“He always said ,’If they have both my boys, they’re going to get me,’” said Richard Spofford, Harold’s grandson who is 67 and living in Georgetown. The family’s strong military history inspired Richard to try to enlist during the Vietnam war, but he was rejected because of his football injuries.

Enlisting wasn’t easy for Richard’s grandfather, either. Although he wanted to serve, getting into the military at nearly 50 years old was no small task back then. Harold was laughed out of the local recruiting office, but he was persistent. One day he told his wife that he was going to Boston to enlist. No one expected he’d get in.

“My mother almost fainted,” Richard’s father wrote in his memoir.

For two years, the three men were stationed all over the world. When the war ended, Richard’s father continued his military career, while his grandfather and uncle returned to civilian life.

Richard grew up hearing their stories and celebrating the family’s military history has become his dedicated passion. His father hand-wrote volumes of memoirs, so when North of Boston Media Group made a call out for veteran photos and stories for the upcoming publication, “Salute to Veterans,” Richard was eager to get the Spofford’s story recognized.

After enlisting, Richard’s grandfather served in the Hawaiian Islands, before being honorably discharged in 1945. Roland was deployed aboard the USS Arkansas to the European African and Middle Eastern Theaters.

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