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Body Identified as Marine, Janice Rubendall

March 5, 2012

May you rest in peace Janice, you will not be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time.

The coroner said the Marine’s tattoos helped to make a preliminary identification of her remains. “We compared the tattoos with the tattoos described to us (by the family),” he said.

The body was recovered from the riverbank along West Indian Lane in West Norriton Sunday afternoon. Rubendall, of Wayne Avenue in Lower Providence, had not been seen by her family since Jan. 4. An organized search for the missing woman in mid-February yielded no significant finds. Hofman, who is working with Naval Criminal Intelligence Service for further confirmation of the identity, will continue efforts to get a usable fingerprint from the woman’s badly decomposed body. Hofman said more investigation is needed to help determine how Rubendall actually died.

If anyone has any information about what happened to Janice please contact the authorities. The family deserves answers.

Thank you all for your help in spreading the word about the disappearance. Thank you for your kind words and continued prayers.

Update on Missing Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom

March 4, 2012

Update #3 on Missing Veteran – The body has been identified as Janice Rubendall. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time. Rest in peace Janice, you will not be forgotten.

Update #2 on Missing Veteran – I just wanted to note that nothing has been confirmed. An autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow, we should know more then. Please keep the family in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you.

Update on Missing Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom

A body found along the bank of the Schuylkill River on Sunday afternoon has been tentatively identified as Janice Rubendall, the former U.S Marine whose car was found abandoned near the Betzwood Bridge in early January.

Robert Rubendall, Janice’s father, said Sunday evening that Lower Providence Township Police had visited him at his home to tell him of the discovery.

A resident of the Port Indian neighborhood in West Norriton discovered the body “wedged between a boat dock and the shoreline,” Rubendall said. “They’re pretty sure it’s her.”

18/365 – Honoring the Hedrick Family – Four Generations of Service

March 4, 2012


Celebrating my family’s service to the U.S. Army.  A century of active and in-active federal government service. 

“Always remember those who protect and preserve our independence”

“I can’t help but get choked up every time I think about my family.”

Serving in:  World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War and in the countries Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, Jordan, Afghanistan and others.

By: Janet (Hedrick) Stewart

As a young teenager I wrote an article appearing in the Morristown Gazette-Mail reporting the military career of my brothers and how proud I was of their service and commitment, with another article in The Rogersville Review in 2009 honoring their continued service that included two nephews.  After seeing the article request for honoring our veterans 365 days a year, I had to tell their story again.

My father Pryor Hedrick was born in Grainger County on February 14, 1897.  He married Bertha Noe, in 1916.  Noe was the daughter of William Arthur Noe and Minnie Bell Phillips.  They had three children Kenneth Hedrick, Velma Grace Hedrick and Francis Hedrick.  Parents and children are all deceased.

In 1938, Pryor Hedrick married my mother, Betty Shockley.  She was the daughter of George and Lillie Shockley.  They had five children, Shirley Hedrick (Johnson), Donald Hadrick, Judy Hedrick (Drinnon), Darrell Hedrick and Janet Hedrick (Stewart).

Kenneth Hedrick in Uniform

My oldest brother Kenneth Hedrick enlisted in the Army in 1937 and retired in 1965 with 28 years’ of  service.  He served with the 18th Combat Team 32nd Field Artillery Battalion, 1st Infantry Division in North Africa and Europe.  At the beginning of World War II he was stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts.  He was selected to become part of the American Expeditionary Force, commanded by General George Patton.

Kenneth was part of the invasion of France on D-Day June 6, 1944.  He earned a Bronze Star on D-Day while landing on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.  Kenneth also served in Korea during the Korean War.  He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Army of Occupation Medal with German Clasp; the Victory Medal; the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with seven battle stars for Tunisia, Sicily, Normandy, North France, Rhineland, Arden-Alsace and Central Europe.   Kenneth also received the National Defense Service Award; the Distinguished Unit Emblem, the French Fourragere; the Belgium Fourragere; the Army Commendation Medal, and the Korean Service Medal and the Korean Campaign Medal.

Kenneth died on December 26, 1972 in Johnson City, Tennessee.  He is buried at Mountain Home National Cemetery in Johnson City.

My brother Donald Hadrick (different spelling because it was misspelled in military documents) joined the Army in 1958.  He retired in 1994, with 20 years active duty and 16 years inactive service working for the Department of the Army, a combined 36 years service.

Don in Uniform 1972

Don served two combat tours in Vietnam. His first tour was with the 1st Infantry Division, the same division, my brother Kenneth served with twenty-three years earlier.  Don’s first tour was December 1965 until December 1966.  He was wounded in action on Easter Sunday 1966 and again on Thanksgiving Day November 24, 1966. My sister walked for miles to my parent’s home to inform us of my brother’s injuries.  If you’ve had this happen in your family, you know this is something you will never forget.  I can still remember standing in the house screaming and crying.  Still to this day, it is a horrible feeling just to imagine what a veteran feels.  Military families will never forget being notified but their wounds go much deeper than just the obvious injuries, feelings they carry for the rest of their life, physically, but more so mentally, some much worse than others.

Don was evacuated to the U.S. Army Hospital in Fort Ord, California where he stayed until released.

In July 1969 he received orders to return to Vietnam and joined the 4th Infantry Division.  He was wounded by shrapnel from a hand grenade in January 1970.  He returned home in August 1970.

Don’s awards include; two Bronze Star Medals for Valor and two Bronze Star Medals for service; the Combat Infantry Badge, the Purple Heart, the Air Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, three Army Accommodations Medals; the National Defense Service Medal; the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; seven awards of the Good Conduct Medal, the Vietnamese Campaign Medal with six battle stars, the Vietnamese Service Medal, the Vietnamese Civic Actions Medal; The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry; and the Vietnam Wound Medal.

Don lives on Daniel Island, in Charleston, South Carolina with his wife Bobbie and is enjoying his retirement.

My nephew, Dennis Franklin Hadrick, son of Donald Hadrick served in the US Army from 1981 until 1994. He rose to the rank of Sergeant First Class in the Gulf War. He served as forward observer for the Artillery in the Third Armored Division.  His military awards include the Bronze Star for Service; the Meritorious Service Medal; three awards of the Army Accommodations Medal; four awards of the Army Achievement Medal; the Good Conduct Medal. The National Defense Service Medal, the Southeast Asia Service Medal with three bronze service stars; the Professional Development Medal with #3, the Oversea Service Medal for service in Korea and Germany, the Kuwait Liberation Medal, and the Army Service Medal.

Dennis in Uniform

Dennis is currently employed by the Department of State in Washington, D.C; as Program Manager in the Bureau of Political and Military Affairs.  He is the Department of State’s representative for the de-mining program. Dennis won Officer of the Year Award for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.  Dennis was selected because of his consistent humanitarian mine action and important contributions in promoting efforts around the world, particularly in countries just emerging from conflict, such as; Georgia and Iraq. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered remarks and presented the award to Dennis in October 2009.  Dennis has 13 years active service.  Seventeen 17 years inactive service with the federal government creating and managing conventional weapons destruction programs around the world, including Iraq, Jordan, Afghanistan and other countries in that section of the world.  He has visited over 125 countries in his travels.

Dennis lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his wife Susan.

My nephew, Kenneth Brian Hadrick, son of Donald Hadrick served with the US Army for 6 years from 1983 to 1989.  Ken graduated early from Sacramento

Ken in Uniform

California High School.  He served in Europe and with the 101st Airmobile Division at Fort Campbell Kentucky.  After leaving the military, he returned to Sacramento to begin working in the cable construction business.  His occupation has taken him to Reno, Nevada, Salt Lake City, Utah and to Denver, Colorado where he now works for Tetra Tech.  He continues his service to Veterans as the Commander of an American Legion in Thornton, Colorado and performs military burial rites for deceased Veterans.

Ken resides in Thornton, Colorado with his wife JeNet.

17/365 – Honoring – Charles Crews

February 28, 2012

Charles Crews fought WWII beneath the Pacific Ocean as a submariner.  He and the crew of the USS Spot were depth-charged 4 times, twice by their own country.

Charles Crews

Born in 1921, Crews said, “I lost both parents before my 14th birthday.  We kids were raised by a compassionate stepmother, but I was on my own at 18.”  Crews milked cows and delivered milk until introduced to his civilian niche as a projectionist in movie theaters. “A friend that operated projectors in the Navy taught me the trade,” he said.

Enthralled by his buddy’s tales of the Seven Seas, Crews tried to join the Navy in 1939 but was turned down.  “Flat feet,” he stated.  Crews found work at the fabulous Fox Theater in Atlanta.  “I ushered before a promotion to projectionist in the screening room where they censored films, like trying to cut ‘damn’ from Gone with the Wind.”

After Pearl Harbor, the Navy overlooked flat feet.  Crews said, “I boarded a train at Union Station in Oct ’42 for boot camp at Great Lakes, IL.  Our barracks was in a corn field, no hot water, no heat, but a bunch of Yankees.  We refought the Civil War.”

Crews’ first shipboard assignment was on a refurbished survivor of Dec 07, the battleship USS Nevada.  “I boarded in Seattle,” he said. “We took trail runs on Puget Sound before sailing to Long Beach, CA.  I danced with Betty Grable at a Hollywood canteen, saw Clark Gable and Bob Hope, and heard aging Sophie Tucker tell the boys, “There’s snow on the roof but there’s still a fire in the furnace.”

The Nevada joined battleships Idaho and Texas to bombard Attu Island in the Aleutians in ’43.  As a 40mm gunner, Crews watched the massive 16” guns fire their payloads.  “We put cotton in our ears,” he said.  “The battleship would rock like a baby cradle when those guns cut loose.”  Albeit, Crews realized battleships were not his forte.  He stated, “I preferred the notion of a close knit crew.”  He volunteered for submarines; passed all the tests, including the prerequisite of having all your teeth.

Assigned to submarine training in New London, CT, Crews endured 100ft diving tank trials, breathed underwater with the Munson Lung, endured the pressure tank (a 50% failure rate), mastered ‘the boat’ from bow to stern, and trained at sea on antiquated WWI subs.  Graduating 6th in a class of 150, Crews received orders for the USS Seawolf.  “The parents of a boy from Massachusetts wanted him to remain on the east coast so I swapped boats with him.  I took the USS Spot,” Crews said.  (The Seawolf was lost at sea in Oct of ’44.  There were no survivors).

Crews boarded the newly commissioned USS Spot in San Francisco.  “I operated the starboard side maneuvering board, plus kept fresh water in the batteries,” he said.  “A WWII sub used diesel engines to run on the surface but used batteries if submerged.  I’d crawl down a hole with a hose to water the batteries.  Leaking acid was always a danger.”

Ordered to Pearl Harbor, the crew of the Spot received a surprise upon arrival.  “We were told we’d been sunk,” Crews said.  “That sure was news to us.”

Combat lay ahead. “Wake Island was our first patrol,” Crews recalled.  “We sank merchant ships but I don’t remember any celebrations.  No guilty feeling, but we weren’t jovial about it either.”  Occasionally, their submarine made unauthorized rendezvous with seagoing Japanese ‘Junks’.  “They were everywhere,” Crews said.  “We knew they could radio our position in, but we still traded them our canned goods for fresh fish.  The navy finally stopped that barter system.”

Armed with torpedoes, a 5” deck gun, 40mm and 20mm anti-aircraft guns, Crews recalled one encounter between the Spot and a merchant ship.  “Our 5” gun traded shells with the merchant ship.  We won the duel then sent a boarding party to search the vessel.  What the guys saw made them sick; they wouldn’t even talk about it.”

Crew members employ a 5-inch deck gun on the USS Spot that Rockdale County resident Charles Crews served on. In this undated photo, Crews said the men were firing on a Japanese ship. The photo was taken by a newspaper photographer as Crews stood by.

While taking on supplies from a sub tender off the island of Saipan, the sailors of the Spot saw the grisly results of fanatical militarism.  “The bleached bones of suicidal Japanese dotted the beach,” Crews said.  “We saw other bones, too, American.”

The Spot received credit for participation in the battle for Iwo Jima.  Crews said, “We remained on station to rescue downed airmen, young flyboys like future President George H. W. Bush, but other subs always beat us to the rescue.”

The Yellow Sea near China and the waters off Guam were also patrolled by men of the Spot. “On one occasion we surfaced inside an enemy convoy and attacked with the 5” deck gun, sank a few then submerged.  About the time we were settling into bunks, we heard ‘man your battle stations!’ The skipper resurfaced to engage another merchant ship.  He’d made a mistake.  The ship was a Japanese destroyer.   It raked our boys on the deck.  Several were badly wounded.  We immediately submerged, right into a mud bank. Depth charges pounded us for hours; it’s like bombs going off in your face.  I prayed for God to help us, he did.”

Mistaken identity caused the Army Air Force to attack the Spot once as did a US naval destroyer.  “That got old quick,” Crews stated.  Crewmembers of the US destroyer apologized to the submariners at a recent reunion.  Crews stated, “To be honest, I didn’t want to hear it!”

Of sub grub, Crews said, “Steaks, plenty of them, but we craved something green, like spinach or lettuce.  In port we’d pilfer supply crates and steal anything leafy green.”

In early ’45 the Spot found trouble in the Sea of Japan.  “We surfaced right in the middle of a mine field.  The skipper screamed, ‘Shut down engines, shut down engines!’ I can’t describe my feelings, especially when he said, ‘follow orders and be on your toes.’  I prayed a lot that day, too.  Then we heard ‘Dive!’ and we submerged straight down, like a rock, and luckily slipped away.”

The Spot returned to Pearl Harbor in July ’45 for repairs and supplies, but atomic bombs dropped on Japan made an overhaul and supplies unnecessary.  WWII ended with Crews sunbathing on Waikiki Beach.  “Nice way to end a war,” he said, smiling.

Crews retired as a film inspector from the Civil Service in 1997 but continued to work with audiovisual support systems. “My last gig in 2009 was a Mercedes Benz trade show at the World Congress Center in Atlanta, five grand for a week.  My first paycheck as a projectionist was $12.00.  Change can be good.”


Pete Mecca –

Pete Mecca – Vietnam veteran, columnist, and free-lance writer

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