Patrick Edward Kiely
T/5 in 3133rd Signal Service Co
Born 1917 in NY, Died 1983
County of residence at enlistment: Bronx County, NY
Other residence(s): Bronx, NY; Pawling, NY; Tampa, FL
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: clerks, general office
Patrick Kiely was born on March 17, 1917, in New York City, the oldest of two sons. His father had a commercial chauffeur's license, and was an ambulance driver later in his life. All four of Patrick's grandparents had been born in Ireland and, like many Irish boys born on St Patrick's Day, he bore the saint's name as his own. His father was in prison during much of his early childhood, while his mother worked as a hotel laundress; sadly, she died of pregnancy complications when he was only 11. Although his father remarried and had two more children, Patrick did not live with them but was housed with different relatives for the five years following her death.
When he was 16 he joined the National Guard, supplying a 1915 birth year to make himself appear to be 18. He would remain in the Guard for most of the period from December 11, 1933 until March 1, 1944; a total of four enlistments and seven years of service. During his time in the Guard, he was trained as an electrician and engineer and worked on ships in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.
Along the way he married Margaret Gott on November 4, 1939; they had been sweethearts since their mid-teens. He registered for the draft on October 16, 1940; at the time he was living in the Bronx and working at Book of the Month Club as a shipping clerk. Their first child, Judith Ann, was born before the war.
He enlisted in the Army on March 1, 1944; his enlistment record says that he was living in the Bronx and had completed one year of high school. He was assigned to the 3133 Signal Company Special, and served in Italy during the war as a 40-ton truck driver and later a tank driver. His granddaughter, Amy Ayala, reports that she learned from his separation papers that "he participated in a reconnaissance platoon whose mission was to draw enemy fire in order to document the positions of the enemy. We were told that he was jarred off a tank and suffered an injury which actually led to the Army finding cancer in his neck."
He was discharged on December 15, 1945 and returned to New York and his job at Book of the Month Club. He and Margaret had three more children: son Paul and twins Janet and Christine. They lived in a house they had purchased in the Bronx. In the 1950s, he started a career working with the first large computer systems. He worked for Litton Industries where he served as computer librarian, and finished his career as a computer tape librarian at the Wall Street office of Chase Manhattan Bank.
Amy continues her story: "He loved to read and . . . was most interested in learning about Native Americans and history. He loved jazz and would frequently have records playing in the house. He spent many years in and out of veterans' hospitals having surgeries and treatments and never complained. He had such a high regard and respect for the healthcare he received that it rubbed off on his children and all four spent careers in the healthcare field."
Once Patrick and Margaret's children were grown, the couple left the Bronx and moved to Pawling, NY. In his mid-60s Patrick was once again admitted to the hospital, and it was hard for Margaret to visit since she didn't drive. Their daughter, Janet, a nurse living in Tampa, FL, invited Patrick and Margaret to come and stay with her family towards the end of his life. Amy says: 'He lived longer than they told him he would, and we all know it's because he was able to live with his sweetheart and his family. He is revered in this family as someone who had a hard life as a child but always pulled himself up by his bootstraps. He was an affectionate person who gave the best hugs. . . . He loved to tell stories and had a sharp wit and sense of humor. His brightness resonates in all of us who have come after, and we recognize it in each other—that is his legacy."
Patrick died on February 6, 1983 in Tampa and is buried at St. John's Cemetery in Pawling, NY.
1933 New York National Guard Service Card
1939 marriage license
1940 draft card
1942 US Guard Service card
1944 enlistment record
1983 VA death record
1983 Find a Grave record
1983 obituary in the Bradenton Herald (FL)
2023 (August 24) GALP Veteran Biography Worksheet from granddaughter Amy Ayala