Sunday’s Delaware County veterans parade will honor women who served in the U.S. military.
Among those two dozen grand marshals are June Lownie Radcliff, who will be joined by her identical twin sister, Joyce Lownie Davis. The 87-year-olds have been in this year’s Columbus Fourth of July parade and today’s Columbus Veterans Day parade.
“This will be exciting for us in our old age,” Radcliff said.
Inspired by their father, World War I veteran Donald Lownie, the twins grew up in New Jersey during the Depression and enlisted in the Organized Reserve Corps (later to be known as the U.S. Army Reserve) in 1948. They were lieutenant-nurses who eventually treated soldiers who were flown in from Korean War battlefields to the Fitzsimons Army Hospital in Colorado.
“The poor guys, they didn’t have the gear that they do nowadays,” Radcliff said. “They were frozen and full of diseases, most with tuberculosis, the dengue fever and foot rot.”
Although she doesn’t have any battle mementos, Radcliff did have two memorable things happen during her military service — she twice saw President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who she said had physicals at Fitzsimons; and she met another patient, Corporal Richard Radcliff.
“I had only seen him in pajamas until we got married in Athens (Ohio),” June said.
Later, she said: “Got my discharge. I was married and had a child. You couldn’t stay. Boy, I’ve been mad about that ever since. But that’s the way it is. When my daughter turned 18, I tried to get back in. I talked with a general and he approved it, but when it went to Washington — too old.”
The sisters continued to work in the nursing profession at the Ohio State University Medical Center before retiring in the 1980s. They now live in Whitehall near Radcliff’s daughter, Pamela Chattergoon.
“Nothing for 50 years,” Radcliff said. “All of a sudden, we’re being recognized. I don’t really know what for. At that time, there weren’t many women (in the military).”
“Finally,” said Chattergoon of the belated recognition. She will drive the sisters in her Hummer during the parade.
The Delaware County veterans parade will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 8. The route will begin at Ohio Wesleyan University, continue downtown and end at the Delaware County Fairgrounds. Although women veterans will serve as grand marshals, all veterans, active or retired, from all branches, will be honored. A veterans celebration will be held at the fairgrounds following the parade.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.