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 - Haven, Pa. A vis Man, Veteran Bugler, Tells of...
Haven, Pa. A vis Man, Veteran Bugler, Tells of World War I Service By RAY SHAFFER Express Staff Reporter "He can play a bugle call like you never heard before... So lik-a-lee that you wanna go to war..." These lines from "Alexander's Ragtime Band " might have been wirtten to describe George B. Dranh of Avis, who, despite his 70 years of age, is frequently called upon to bugle at military functions and funerals. Time and a flood destroyec many of George's souvenirs from his years of military service, leaving only a few ternishec medals and some of his Army papers But his keen mind hoi ds such memories as sounding the fanfares, or flares, when Franklin D. Roosevelt inspect ed Camp Drum in New York State . . . bugle calls at Camp Shelby, La., when former President Dwight D. Eisenhower then a lieutenant colonel, was umpire for the maeuvers of bugling at Princeton Uni versdty in 1963 at the college's Service of Rememberance for graduates who gave their lives for their country, and of seeinj President Harry S. Truman am a host of ranking military offi cials in the reviewing stands. George was born in Polam Aug. 5, 1893, a son of Mitro and Haffia Drash. His father was a Gendarme, or a mem ber of a police agency. George left Poland in 1911 at the age of 18 and came to America. He settled in Hazleton and obtained a job driving mules hi a hardcoal mine -eceiving $17 every two weeks is his pay. One day, a mine car "ran away" and struck the mules, crippling them. Workers frightened George into believing he was to be arrested, so he "hopped" a freight train bound for Williamsport. Getting off the train in Newberry, he walked to Jersey Shore, there boarding a train bound for Lock Haven. Here, he was "arrested" for riding the train illegally, but dodged prosecution b y | asking for work. He soon found himself "walking track" from Lock Haven to McElhattan, a job he held from 1912 to 1914. He worked some time at the paper mills then in the Renovo car shops, where he remained until 1917. He returned to Nypen for another year's work and was drafted April 18, 1918 by Sheriff William Rathgeber. At this time, however, George had not recevied his initial citizenship papers, so he was not accepted for military service. Angered somewhat by this turn of events, he called on a recruiting officer, then station ed at the Irvin Hotel, and the officer "fixed it up" for him to get his papers. "In th« fall of 1918, I rode a bicycle from Lock Haven to Williamsport to be inducted. I didn't pass one automobile on that ride," he mused. " I wasn't called into service until 1919. I took basic training at Fort Slocum, N. Y., then was sent to Calif., from where we set out for Siberia. "I was a member of Co. "A," 31st Infantry. We went to Vladivostok for more basic training, then were sent to Shko- tovo, Russia, where they (the Army) learned I could speak Russian. "I was placed in an intelligence section to read notes and letters captured from the Bolsheviks. Our outfit was called 'Wolfhounds' and 'Snowdogs' ", George recalled. At this point the Army also learned George could play a trumpet. He told of having become interested jn music while in Lock Haven, of becoming a member of Nypen Band, how he bought his first trumpet here for $10. He played this horn in Russia but lost it some time i after being issued an Army i bugle, which is like a trumpet but without valves. This same Army regulation bugle is the one George uses today as he fulfills requests to blow "Taps" at military funerals. He also has the bugle issued (to him in 1941, but his prefers the older model. Rightfully proud of his prowess as a military bugler, George is proud that he was considered one of the finest buglers in uni- ! form. With his duties as interpreter and bugler, he traveled extensively throughout Russia but never was captured. He left the USSR April 1,1920 and was sent to a hospital in the Philippines to recover from peneumonia. He was then sent to San Francisco and was assigned to Co. "I", 44th Infantry, as bugler. The 44th was sent to Yuma Ariz., in 1921, but was shipped back 30 days later, when tht PRIDE MINGLES WITH MEMORIES - George B. Drash, 70, of Avis, the old Army bugler, poses proudly beside • photo of his four stepsons who saw military service during World War n, whUe remembering his years of service with the AEF and holding the bugle on which he has sounded thousands of military calls. The servicemen, left to right, are Richard Bierly (Army) of Denver, Colo.; Robert Bierly Air Force) of Avis; Harold Bierly (Air Force) Williamsport and Howard Bierly (Navy) Lock Haven. (Express Photo) unit sailed for Hawaii. George then a private first class, learned telegraphy there, where he remained until September oi 1922, when he was discharged. Returning to Lock Haven, he went to work as a Western Union operator, later going with the New York Central Railroad as a telegrapher. He remained with the NYC 40 years, until his retirement four years ago. He has been working since as night watchman at Gardner Ware- lousing, Inc., South Avis, a job in which he walks about four miles daily. One of George's chief interests in life is the National Guard which he joined in 1924 at Lock Saven, when Capt. Edward T. Miller was commanding officer at Hilltop Post. "The Guard was cavalry ;hen. In 1909, the unit was changed to the 190th Field Artillery. I was inducted in 1941, when Col. Hall F. Achenbach, Lock Haven, then a captain, was in charge," George recalled. "I was 47 then, and I was sent to Camp Shelby, Miss., as mgler. I was a private, but Capt. Achenbach had me promoted quickly to staff sergeant. was there only nine months when my wife, the former Annie Mae Sellers (to whom he was married in 1922) became ill. 'Through the Red Cross, I was sent home and was released in 1941. My first wife died in 1957, and I was married the following year to Susan Bierly." In 1945, George joined a Reserve unit, still not having received a formal discharge rom military service. The unit he joined was a railroad transportation outfit under Capt. A Amos Weber, Lock Haven. George received a discharge paper Sept. 19, 1941, but on April 15, 1942, he was informed that a Certificate of Service, not an Honorable Discharge, should have been issued. This letter to George states, 'It is assumed you still are member of the 190th Field Artillery, subject to recall, and hat registration on April 27, 942, will not be necessary." His .953 retirement, however, solved what could have been a problem of the Army's "oldest soldier." The friendly little man with he Polish accent might have been the bugler for the funeral if former President Roosevelt, had he gone to Hyde Park instead of Washington, D.C. Gen. George Marshall alerted me to stand by, and I headed 'or Washington, not' realizing the uneral was to take place at Hyde Park, so another bugler played in my place," George recalled. Still using a part of his last- ssued uniform, and the battered Army-issued bugle, George jladly accepts any call to play rom organizations such as the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "I do this gladly, and I would not accept anything if it were offered. I'm getting older though and I find myself thinking each time I play Taps' that someday someone will be playing it or me," he said. A GOOD LIP AND A STOUT HEART Despite his 70 years, George B. Drash, Avis, a veteran of military service in the American Expeditionary Force in World War I, remains active as a bugler. He is called upon frequently to play "Taps" at military funerals, and will take part in the dedication of the addition to Hilltop Post armory on Sun- day, May 17. Here, George demonstrates the sounding of a call for the photographer, not unlike the form he displayed for such notables as Dwight D. Eisenhower and the late Franklin D. Roosevelt, former U.S. Presidents. The bugle is the same Army bugle issued to him many years ago. (Express Photo) George claims, however, that' he's in good health, due chiefly to the amount of walking he does. "I can't sit still long... I have to keep moving," he said with a smile. A member of St. Agnes Church in Lock Haven, George said he lias walked from Avis to church "several times" when he has missed a bus. He is a member of the Moose, Elks, Eagles, Legion, 40 et 8 and VFW, and keeps fairly active in most of these groups. George has been invited to play his bugle at the upcoming iedication of the new National Guard addition at Hilltop Post, something he is looking forward, to with great anticipation. He's been practicing with the bugle for another "big day" in a colorful military life. With the interview ending near; the dinner hour, George was asked by the writer to demonstrate his ability by playing "mess call." "That's one I haven't played in years,," he said, but he raised the bugle like the veteran he is and the crystal clear notes filled the air with ease. Someday, someone will blow "Taps" for George Drash, the old bugler. He'll have to be good. The mouse-tailed bats of Egypt prefer to live inside the pyramids. 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Clipped from
  1. The Express,
  2. 07 May 1964, Thu,
  3. Page 2

jari Member Photo
  • Clipped by jari – 12 Apr 2013

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