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John Joseph McGlynn Sr.

T/3 in 3132nd Signal Service Co : T&M Platoon


Born 1922 in MA, Died 2016

County of residence at enlistment: Middlesex County, MA
Other residence(s): Medford, MA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: semiskilled routemen
College education after the war: New England School of Law
Notes: mayor of Medford Mass 5 times; also served in State Legislature; one of the greatest men I've ever known, father of today's mayor (who has since retired in 2016)
Source: W. Anderson Notes; 3132 Caption List; Ghost Army roster by state; Post War Sonic List from Bill Anderson; 3132 Pine Camp Photo Names; bio info from The Ghost Army by Beyer/Sayles; photo from McGlynn Collection, GALP Archive

Jack McGlynn was born on February 26, 1922 in Cambridge, MA. His father was a milkman; he was the oldest of four children. The family had moved to Somerville by 1930, and later relocated to Medford.

Jack graduated from St. Clement High School in Medford in 1939 and got a job working at an Everett supermarket, L.L. Buckles, where he met and fell in love with a customer, Helen Lenox, also a Medford resident. He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942, and married Helen later that year.

He enlisted in the Army on April 9, 1943, trained as a cryptographer, and found himself in the 3132 Signal Service Company of the Ghost Army. "I was interviewed for a top-secret organization, which was involved in psychological warfare and something to do with sound. I thought: sound--we were going to zap all the Germans; we'd end the war and that would be it. But it was more psychology than zapping."

L to R: Jack McGlynn, Walter Manser, Ralston Collins; photo courtesy Heather Collins Mendigorin from the collection of Ralston Barrett Collins

Jack loved to tell the story of his most memorable moment during the war, around the time of the Battle of the Bulge. He was driving a jeep with Ninetieth Infantry Division markings when an MP from the real Ninetieth Division stopped him at a checkpoint. The MP was brandishing a machine gun; he suspected the men of impersonating Americans to sneak back into Germany. The MP asked Jack for the password and he didn't know it, and he didn't know last month's password either. "He asked where I was from and I said, 'Boston'. He growled, 'Where? That's a big place.' I told him Medford, and then he wanted to know the name of the school on Harvard Street. I was relieved because I lived on Harvard Street, so I passed the Lincoln School every day. There were millions of Americans in the Army and I ran into someone who lived a quarter-mile from me!"

After his discharge from the Army, with the rank of Staff SGT, Jack and Helen started McGlynn Florist in Medford, and he continued his education, earning a Bachelor of Laws from New England School of Law. The McGlynns also started a family; they would go on to have six children: John Jr, Richard, Karen, Michael, Bernadette, and Kevin.

"As a florist, I was always dealing with people at times of great emotion," Jack told the Boston Globe in a 1981 interview. "A certain trust develops because of that. It was a natural progression for me to then run for public office."

Jack was elected to the Medford City Council in 1956, and served there for 22 years. He was elected a Massachusetts state rep in 1958, and filled that office for 16 years. He also served five two-year terms as Mayor of Medford during his time on the City Council.

After retiring from those positions, he served as Deputy Secretary of State under Paul Guzzi in the late 1970s, and then in Governor Edward King's administration as Director of Intergovernmental Relations and later Chief Secretary to the Governor. He was appointed Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Public Employee Retirement Administration in 1983, and remained in that post until 1997. He then served several years as a Special Sheriff in Middlesex County, where he worked to establish community counseling centers in Cambridge and Lowell to assist those on probation to reintegrate into their communities.

He was honored by the city of Medford when local leaders named an elementary school after him (the John J. McGlynn Sr. Elementary School).

In addition to his own political roles, he was active in the campaigns of many local, state, and national candidates, including being a friend, supporter, and organizer for Senator, and later President, John F. Kennedy.

He also spent 42 years as director and board chairman of the Medford Cooperative Bank, and later at its successor, Brookline Bank. He was a member of the Disabled American Veterans, the American Legion, and the VFW.

Jack's son Michael inherited his father's political mantle; Michael served for 12 years in the Massachusetts State House, and then for 14 two-year terms as Mayor of Medford, retiring in 2016.

Jack died on August 20, 2016, and is buried at Oak Grove Cemetery in Medford.

In announcing his death, author and filmmaker Rick Beyer had this to say: "Jack was an amazing guy: so full of life, a person of great energy, enthusiasm, charm, and humor. Not to mention a wonderful storyteller. He came to Ghost Army fundraisers, screenings, and parties, often accompanied by other members of his close-knit and fiercely loyal family. I am so honored to have known him, and helped to tell a part of his story."


1930 census

1940 census

1942 draft card

1943 enlistment record

2012 Boston Globe article about his Ghost Army experience

2016 Boston Globe obituary

2016 Find a Grave obituary (contains more biographical details)

2016 Funeral Home Obituary

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