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A soldier's tale - Retired colonel writes memoirs

October 20, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Donald Aines Sr. and his wife, Marjorie, moved 22 times in his 30-year Army hitch. During most of those years, the couple reared and moved four sons.

"Win, Draw, Lose," the collective memoirs of Donald Aines Sr.'s military career and family life, was published this summer. He was encouraged to write it by his brother and his son, Donald Aines Jr., 47, Chambersburg-area reporter for The Morning Herald.

Aines, 78, of Woodlea Drive, Waynesboro, was drafted Sept. 22, 1944, at age 18. He retired from the Army in April 1973.


Donald Aines Jr. wrote in the introduction in his father's book, "Our father was not a Sergeant York or Audie Murphy, but he served his country honorably over three decades and three wars ... Drafted as an aimless teenager in the last months of World War II, he rose through the ranks from buck private to full colonel. Through the accident of history he found himself in three wars, two of which placed his life at direct risk from enemy fire."

"The reason I'm 78 today is because of a very, very smart sergeant in Germany in April 1945," Donald Aines Sr. said.

His nine-man squad wanted to spend the night in the front room of a German farmhouse, but the sergeant ordered them to sleep in the kitchen instead.

During the night, the Germans fired an artillery shell into the front room.

Aines saw more combat in the coming weeks until Germany surrendered May 8.

He served in the occupation forces until his discharge in July 1946. His life as a civilian lasted 17 days. He re-enlisted to maintain his first sergeant's rank.

He ended up in a training company at Fort Dix, N.J. In the spring of 1947, he met Marjorie Ann Ryback, a nursing student, on a blind date. They got married four years later in November 1951 after he returned from Korea.

He spent 11 months fighting there during the bitter cold winter of 1950-1951.

The moves to new assignments in those early years without children were a snap for the couple, Marjorie Aines said.

They had no furniture.

"We just put two footlockers in the car and went. That was how you moved in the Army," she said.

The Aineses acquired furniture as the boys came along. Deane, the oldest, was born at Fort Dix in 1953, followed by Glen in Germany in 1954. Donald Jr. was next in 1957 in Olney, Md., then Paul in 1958 in Miami.

The postings lasted longer as Aines moved up through the ranks. Assignments and Army schools took the family to Fort Riley and Fort Leavenworth, both in Kansas, Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana and Fort Gordon in Georgia, among others.

Aines served a year in Turkey and worked at the Pentagon.

In June 1969, he was sent to Vietnam for a year. His job as a lieutenant colonel was sending rotating troops home and ordering in replacements.

His last post before retirement was in Washington, D.C. He was promoted to colonel and put in charge of the Army's casualty division and Operation Homecoming, which brought American POWs home following the U.S. pullout.

Between it all, Aines earned his bachelor's degree through years of night courses at colleges in Georgia, Indiana, Wisconsin and Kansas.

In his introduction, Donald Jr. wrote that while his father was "often absent, he was not an absentee father. During the years he was home he was a father with a vengeance ... a baseball and basketball coach, an assistant scoutmaster and the man of the house. He was able to play those roles thanks to the sacrifices of our mother ... who shouldered many burdens during her quarter century as a soldier's wife."

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