Vernon Elmer Ney
T/4 in 3133rd Signal Service Co
Born 1922 in PA, Died 1994
County of residence at enlistment: Berks County, PA
Other residence(s): Jefferson Township/Berks, PA; Wernersville, PA; Hamburg, PA; Denver, PA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: skilled mechanics and repairmen, motor vehicles
Vernon Ney was born on December 23, 1922 in Jefferson Township, Berks County, PA.* He was the only child of his parents, and the relationship wasn't long-lasting; by the time of the 1930 census all three members of the family were living separately. Vernon was living with his maternal grandparents on a farm in Jefferson Township, his father back at home in Wernersville with his parents, and his mother (who had been only 17 when he was born) in yet another residence in Wernersville. In 1940, when he was 18, Vernon was working as a hired man on a farm in nearby Lower Heidelberg, PA.
He registered for the draft on June 30, 1942; he was then working at Hahn Motors, Inc. in Hamburg, PA and living in the same community. He married Elsie Elizabeth Katzaman at about this time. He and Elsie would have a daughter, Geraldine, born about 1943.
Vernon enlisted on March 4, 1944; he stated that he had a grammar school education and his occupation was listed in the category of skilled mechanics and repairmen, motor vehicles. He was assigned to the 3133rd Signal Service Company, and saw service in Europe with the unit during the war. He was discharged on February 13, 1946 with the rank of T/4.
After returning to Hamburg, Vernon went back to work as a motor vehicle mechanic and became active in the local VFW. He had become Commander of the post by 1950.
From October 16, 1950 to August 21, 1951 he re-upped with the Army to serve with the rank of SGT during the Korean War. He and Elsie had another daughter, Shirley; probably born after his return from this second war.
By 1956, Vernon had become Chief of the Hamburg VFW Rescue Service. This was likely a volunteer post, but nothing else is known of his life or work during this period.
In 1978, he went to work for Conestoga Custom Products in Leola, PA, which specialized in fire engine bodies. This position seemed to pick up on a thread of involvement in both motor vehicles and fire and rescue that had started in the 1940s. In 1979 he was named General Manager of the Restoration Division. At about this time Vernon relocated to Denver, PA and was married a second time, to a woman named Eunice.
He had also become active as a collector and seller of firefighting memorabilia. Newspaper articles from the time show him exhibiting at the Columbia City Firemen's Association Fair in 1978, at the Fire Memorabilia Marketplace in Allentown in 1985, and at the Emergency Services Exposition in Bloomsburg in 1992. In one of these shows he was selling stuffed dalmatians and in another firefighting-themed lamps. The photo captions referred to "Vernon Ney's lamps" and "his stuffed Dalmatians." Was he making these items himself?
Vernon died on June 10, 1994.
*There are nine different Jefferson Townships in PA, so the county is an important part of the designation. Military records say his birthplace was Jefferson Township in Berks; Social Security records say Wernersville, PA, which is also in Berks County, about 10 miles away.
1942 draft card
1944 enlistment record
1950 Pennsylvania US Veteran Compensation File
1950 article in the Morning Call (Allentown, PA) about his role in the VFW
1956 article in the Morning Call (Allentown, PA) about his role in the Hamburg VFW Rescue Service
1979 article in the Lancaster New Era (PA) about his job
1980 mother's obituary in the Reading Eagle (PA)
1981 article in the Ephrata Review (PA) indicating a possible second marriage
1985 article in the Morning Call (Carbon/Monroe/Schuylkill Counties, PA) about his fire-themed lamps (includes photo)
1992 article in the Press Enterprise (Bloomsburg PA); he is selling his stuffed dalmatians (includes photo)
1994 Social Security Applications and Claim Index
1994 Social Security Death Index (confirms Denver PA residence)
1994 VA death record
1994 Find a Grave record (NOTE: This record has the correct birth and death dates, middle initial, and military service information but it's linked to a cemetery in Opelika, AL. I believe that the gravestone photo is accurate but it's been linked to the wrong cemetery.)