Those Places Thursday – Bernie Doran’s Travels

Bernie Doran and Buddy - World War Two
Bernie Doran (on right) and Buddy – World War Two

This Army photograph of Bernard Doran, Jr. (1917-1973), is from when he served in the United States Army during World War II. He was a quiet and kind man and never really talked about his travels. Looking at this photo, he looks so serious, while his buddy has such a happy ear-to-ear grin. Bernie stayed this skinny his entire life.

He joined the Army on 16 July 1941 and served until 3 October 1945, so my guess is that this picture was taken towards the end of the war. He served in the Pacific Theater, and his rank when discharged was Corporal. Maybe someone can help me out as to what Division he was in, from the insignia and patches on his shirt. Bernie’s Service insignia, on his sleeve, seem to show seven years, so maybe the two years he spent in the CCC Corps were included. His Decorations and Awards from World War II (that I know of) were:  World War II Victory Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button, and American Defense Medal.

Bernie was from Harrison, Hudson County, New Jersey, and, I think, when this picture was taken he was a long way from home. He was the first child born of Bernard and Mary Mahoney Doran, and called Bernie to differentiate from his father, who was nicknamed Barney. Since he never married, and didn’t have children, the few photographs we have of him help to weave together the story of his life. I’ve posted on this blog before about Bernie, but not about his Army days, nor the previous years when he had joined the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Although we have photos of when his younger brothers, James and John, were in the CCC, to the best of my knowledge we don’t have ones of Bernie’s service during the 1930s. This summer sent for his records to the National Personnel Records Center, in St. Louis, Missouri and I received 17 pages back, and this really helped me in my research about his life. If you are in the St. Louis area you can research these records for free.

Bernie stayed in the CCC for as long as he could, receiving an honorable discharge, and then he waited until he was eligible to re-enroll, and went right back in. Bernie had been first sent to Clarkia, Idaho to Camp F-140 (Camp Merry Creek) from 3 May 1935 until 6 January 1936. Then he was sent to Camp F-187 in Avery, Idaho, until he was sent back to Camp Dix, NJ and discharged on 2 October 1936. Bernie had been a Storeroom Clerk and Mess Sergeant and had been an excellent worker. He was told, per the rules, he was ineligible for re-enrollment for one year. This was so other young men out of work during the Great Depression had chances for this relief work.

When Bernie could join again, he did so on 5 October 1937, and this time was sent to Camp DG-34 in Blanding, Utah where he did pick and shovel work until 27 March 1938. Again, he was listed as an excellent worker. From his records, when Bernie first served he was 5’2″ and 106 pounds and when he left he was nineteen years old and 5’6″ and 130 pounds. Also listed was that he had red hair and gray eyes. Obviously, even with lots of food to eat, he wasn’t one to gain lots of weight. Some of the Doran men have this lucky metabolism. Here below is one of the records included in his file.


From the 1940 Federal Census records (accessed at Bernie Doran was back in Harrison, NJ living with his parents and seven siblings at the same address given in his CCC records. He had worked 40 of the previous 52 weeks of 1939 as a machinist in a factory. This photo below that the Doran family saved, although blurry and out of focus, shows Bernie in Harrison, NJ at the War Memorial in the park area next to the Harrison Public Library, on Harrison Avenue. When there are so few photos of a relative, each one is cherished. Bernie is the second from the left, behind the two men wearing white shirts.

Bernard Doran, Jr., and military friends - Harrison NJ
Bernard Doran, Jr., and military friends – Harrison NJ

Although Bernie spent most of his life either in Harrison, or across the Passaic River in Newark, NJ, he was born in Kearny, Hudson County – a neighboring town of Harrison. His CCC and Army years took him out west in the United States, and then half way around the world in the Pacific Theater. My next research will be to write to Catholic churches in the area to try and find his Baptismal record. The Doran family were parishioners at Holy Cross Church in Harrison, but that doesn’t mean I’ll find the record there.

The photo below is of Bernie and his brother, James, taken at their First Holy Communion. Since their ages were so close, they ended up in the same group. The two brothers both died on February 1st, but 24 years apart. James died in 1997, and he always said his brother Bernie was the smartest one in the family. Bernard J. Doran, Jr., was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, NJ next to his parents. What sweet and innocent faces the two brothers have.

Brothers - James and Bernard Doran - circa 1926.
Brothers – James and Bernard Doran – circa 1926.

Those Places Thursday is an ongoing series by Cheryl Palmer of my Heritage Happens through GeneaBloggers. The main focus is for participants to blog about places where your ancestors have spent time. I like how she ends each of her blog posts by saying, “Thanks for stopping by. Wishing you success in all of your genealogical treasure hunts!” My sentiments exactly. Thanks, readers! Good luck as you track down your family’s ancestors!

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