Monday, October 15, 2012

Military Monday - American War Dads

Last week I was re-reading the obituary for my great-grandfather, F. E. Kuhn, which mentioned his charter membership in the American War Dads. I had never heard of this group before so I decided to do a little more research.

The American War Dads was a non-profit group started May 12, 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri, by Nat Milgrim, a grocery store executive. He got the inspiration for the group during a visit to his son at Camp Lee, Virginia. All of the men in his son's unit donated $1.25 from their pay to buy war bonds, an inspiration to Milgram.

"When I saw those boys do that, knowing they didn't have much left over after odds and ends are taken care of, I made up my mind fathers can give the boys some encouragement they aren't getting from anyone else," Milgram said in an AP wire news story dated May 12, 1942.

Milgrim's plan for the group was various volunteer opportunities to include letter-writing campaigns and care packages for servicemembers. He also hoped to ensure that inductees received a "rousing send-off" to camp. The only requirement for membership was one must have had a son or foster son serving in the military.

I have not been able to find much information on the organization online. However, it is clear that it was a popular idea as local chapters begun to spring up all over the United States. Based on various newspaper articles from the time it appears that the group turned in to a major national organization and it still has active chapters today, though I do not believe that the national headquarters still exists.
I found this Officer's manual for American War Dads on eBay and had to have it. I can't help but think that my great-grandfather may have held something similar during his time as a member. I also reached out to the Pleasant Hill Historical Society, Pleasant Hill, Missouri and asked if they were familiar with the group. They found some articles on it in their files and will be sending me copies.

Is anyone familiar with the American War Dads? I would love to find out more so please share your stories.


Debi Austen said...

I've never heard of it - but it sounds interesting!

Anonymous said...

The organization still exist and is very active in the NY State area. If you Google American War Dads you will see the locations of all that are still active and online. I am the treasurer for the American War Dads Chapter 57 out of Wayne County NY. We raise money to support veteran organizations and even help the families of veterans during the holiday seasons whether they are active or have already served. You can check out our website to see what we do and where we donate the money we raise. It is an excellent organization that is always willing to help support our troops. Our website is and our Facebook is Hope this helps you understand what we are about.

Anonymous said...

If you get us any information regarding your Great Grandfather we will be happy to add it to out website as a memorial as you will see the one about Frank Buckles

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Adam, thank you for the update! I had come across several chapters in the NY area and was so happy to see that it is still an active organization. I was unable to find any current connection to the Kansas City area. Is there no longer a national headquarters?

Thank you so much for what you do for Soldiers and veterans. There aren't words to explain how much it means.

Larry Janacaro said...

My Grandfather Fred Janacaro Sr. was treasurer of an American War Dads group in Kansas City Missouri of primarily Italian-American men. This group continued to meet until the mid-1960's. I have the memebership records for this group. The reason this group was formed was due to the fact that Italians were not welcomed as members of the other group that had been formed in Kansas City.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Larry, great information! Thank you for the comment. I don't know if my grandfather's membership extended to KC but would be interested to know if he is on your roles.

Mary Yamaguchi said...

Larry I would love to see your roster of American War Dads. My grandfather was Italian, and in his wallet that I have today is his membership card stating he belonged to East No 11. in Kansas City. He was member # 47.