Posted by: SJS | February 21, 2021

George J. Young in the Spanish-American War

Death notice of George J. Young/Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia) May 8, 1947

Through the diligent efforts of my sister, Joan Stahley Maleno, a precious piece of family history has been shared with us all. We now have documentation that our great grandfather, George J. Young, served as a soldier in Cuba during the Spanish American War at the end of the nineteenth century. Whether or not George served directly under the command of Teddy Roosevelt has yet to be determined. Given the relatively small size of the American force in Cuba, however, the possibilities will be enticing to explore.

My distant memories from childhood include my grandmother’s stories about her father serving in Cuba but over the years, the details became very hazy. I never forgot how Nana Stahley greatly revered Teddy Roosevelt and always felt a special connection to him through her father. Those vague memories about my great grandfather now have solid roots in the historical record. I hope to dig further into this story and unearth more details.

Before he died in the spring of 1947, George J. Young proudly saw his grandson, George (Red) Stahley, serve in the US Navy in World War II. His grandson’s decision to volunteer for one of the navy’s special services–the PT Boats–made him very proud. Nana loved to talk about her father’s affection for his grandson and there are photos of George and Red in his navy uniform standing together in front of the family home on Fishers Avenue in Philadelphia.

While I have never heard the PT sailors described as ‘Rough Riders of the Sea,’ they more than earned that title over the course of WWII. Like the cavalry and infantrymen who charged into battle with Teddy Roosevelt, those young PT sailors embarked on their small boats and launched themselves against larger, heavily armed adversaries on the water, in the air, and in land batteries. Bouncing over the open sea in their boats, I’m sure that those PT crews felt like they were riding fast and hard to take on the enemy.

The bold, daring military service of my great grandfather certainly found an echo in the navy service of his grandson, my father. What a proud and distinguished heritage has come down to our family. We are fortunate, indeed.

Teddy Roosevelt (center left in glasses) with his soldiers in Cuba 1898

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