In honor of Veterans Day, 2015, I wrote a short piece about my brother, Bill, who was a veteran of World War II. I’m now (December 1, 2021) revisiting and expanding the original piece to include other members of my extended family who served in World Wars I and II.
Veterans in the van Raaphorst family
Some of my van Raaphorst ancestors served in the Dutch army, but I believe none served in World War I, which happened shortly after they immigrated to Canada and then Michigan.
Was Bill was the only World War II veteran among my close-in van Raaphorst relatives? I plan to do more research on that topic soon.
William J “Bill” Van Raaphorst
Bill served in Europe in the U.S. Corps of Engineers from 1943 to 1945. He was aboard a mine sweeper working in various ports in the UK.
Veterans in the Riedel family
Among my mother’s close-in relatives there were many veterans of both world wars. In several cases the father served in World War I and the son(s) served in World War II.
Arthur N “Art” Bostwick
My uncle Art, husband of my mother’s sister, Selma (“Sal”), served in France during World War I. I have a letter he wrote to his mother in Michigan on January 19, 1919, when he was still wondering when he’d be returning home.
Raymond R “Ray” Riedel
My mother’s brother Ray served in Europe during World War I as a sergeant in the U.S. Army. He left New York for Europe aboard the SS Canopic on July 21, 1918.
Robert A “Bob” Bostwick
Art’s son Bob served in the Navy in the Pacific theater during World War II.
William L “Bill” Bostwick
Art’s other son, Bill, served during World War II.
Richard L “Dick” Riedel
Dick Riedel, only son of my mother’s brother Louis, served during the war on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was assigned to a special engineering detachment that was monitoring the process of liquid thermal diffusion of uranium. This process helped to separate the heavier U238 atoms from the more common, and lighter-weight U235 atoms. Both were used in the first atomic bombs.
The picture and information above is courtesy of Chris Riedel, Dick’s son, and Utz Schmidt, author of a book and various articles about German immigrants in Michigan’s “Thumb” area. To read an article about Dick Riedel’s wartime experiences, go to the Minden City Herald Archives and search for “Richard Riedel.”
Kelley L Riedel
Kelley, the only son of my mother’s brother Ray (one of the World War I veterans described above), served during World War II.
Bennett M “Ben” Stutsman
Ben, husband of my first cousin Shirley, and brother-in-law of Bill and Bob, above, served in World War II. Ben is in the picture above with his wife and my mom, Nan, in 1987.
Samuel E “Sam” Symons III
Sam Symons, on the right, was the husband of my cousin Phyllis, and son-in-law of my mother oldest brother, Al. Phyllis and Sam were married in January 1942. Sam later served in the war in Europe under General Patton.
Arnold J Westman Jr
Arnold was the husband of my cousin, Jean, daughter of my mother’s older brother Louie. He was also the brother-in-law of Dick Riedel, another veteran described above. He served in the Pacific during World War II. He was aboard the troop ship General John Pope when it left San Francisco on July 27, 1944.