Biography of Joseph Scmidig
CCCman, Company 263, Camp F-112, Prineville, Oregon, Ochoco National Forest
61st Ordnance Company, USA, Pearl Harbor
I, Joseph Schmidig, was born July 21, 1918 in West Hoboken, NJ (now called Union City). My parents, Joseph and Clara (nee Scheidegger) had come to the United States, separately, from Switzerland, settled in Hudson County, NJ, met and married in 1916. I have a sister, Clara, who is three years younger than I. My father worked in the embroidery trade. During my early years we moved several times so we could be where the work was. We were in Carlstadt and Paterson for a time, but the major part of my youth was spent in North Bergen.
I attended McKinley Grammar School (PS #10) in North Bergen and Emerson High School in Union City. As did most of my friends, I left high school before graduating to help bring money home. I held various general labor positions and became unemployed for a few months. When I learned of the CCC's and found that my status made me eligible to participate, I enlisted in January, 1939.
I was sent to Camp (now Fort) Dix, NJ for a physical and orientation. After a short while, we were sent cross-country, by train, to Prineville, Oregon. I was assigned to Company #263, F-112 Forestry Service in the Ochoco National Forest.
I was a little older than most of the other kids when I joined the CCC's. I had, for the most part, completed the requirements for high school completion. I did however, attend a science class, since my area of concern would be forestry. I remember the class to be very interesting and informative. That's pretty much how all the kids reacted in this particular class.
Our company was assigned various types of work, including but not limited to road reparation and stringing communication lines for the Forest Rangers. I also was assigned some forest fire duties.
After two months, I was appointed as an Assistant Leader. I was with the surveyors as a rod man.
In June of 1939, my hitch was up and I returned to New Jersey. Not having much luck finding employment, again, I enlisted in the Army, December 6, 1939. I was sent directly to the Hawaiian Islands. During the December 7th attack on Pearl Harbor, I was on the Island of Oahu.
My outfit in the service was the 61st Ordnance Company (ammunition). During the war, my outfit supplied ammunition to the Army forces fighting in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, the Gilberts, Marshalls and Marianas Islands.
In October, 1944, I was informed I had enough points for rotation back to the States. I was also given the option of re-enlisting, but having seen enough, I chose to go home. After eight-months stateside duty, I was discharged from Fort Dix as a Staff Sergeant on July 28, 1945.
I married Emily Ribar, of North Bergen on July 13, 1946. We lived in Union City for the first three years of our marriage. We moved to Lodi (Bergen County) with our son Jack, then two-years-old, in 1949. Daughter Jill was born in 1958. We still live in Lodi. We attend church at St. Peter and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Guttenberg (couldn't leave Hudson County entirely!) Our daughter was married there on our 50th wedding anniversary, July 13, 1996.
I worked for Robert Reiner Machinists in Weehawken until 1956, VanVlaanderen Machine Shop in Paterson from 1956-1976 and then Garden State Paper in Garfield until my retirement in 1985.
Although not an active participant these days, I am a member of the Lodi Old Timers Association, which was the recreational organization supporting our local Little League organization. I am a member of the Lodi VFW.
In 1990, I learned of the Pearl Harbor Survivor's Association of New Jersey and became a member. At a ceremony at Fort Dix, we were all given medals, created especially for us by then-Governor Jim Florio. In December 1991, my son and daughter-in-law sent us to Hawaii to attend various functions marking the 50th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Thanks to my daughter and son-in-law, in 1996 we were back for the 55th and do hope to go back in 2001! (hear that, kids?).
I and the other Pearl Harbor veterans visited the New Jersey Naval Museum for the 2000 memorial to remember the victims of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. We're getting a little old to parade. We used to be able to go 25 miles in the service. Now we're lucky if we can go five blocks.
In addition to our two children, we have five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
------- Joe Schmidig
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