Ernest Maynard born in 1924 wore an infectious smile while telling me about his WWII service days serving under General Patton and his Korean War days under General MacArthur. Upon arriving at his home in Enfield, Connecticut this lively man immediately took my jacket from me, put it away, threw a pizza in the oven and put on a pot of coffee. Next, he took me for a tour of his home filled with memorabilia from two wars, and his 32 years as a volunteer fire fighter where he was twice chosen as Fireman of the Year! He even had metals to show for his service in his local church! Who gets medals for church? WWII Veteran Ernie Maynard does! During my two hours at his house, Ernie’s phone repeatedly rang. One of the calls was even a lady asking him to go to church that night. Ernie is a really popular guy! Ernie has also played an instrumental role in getting the senior center of Enfield built.
While checking out his awesome WWII era radio, in which I could immediately picture a generation of people listening to FDR’s fireside chats, I learned that Sergeant Maynard was given the Belgian Fourragere for his service with the 92nd Armored Field Artillery Battalion with the 2nd United States Armored Division. For his service, Maynard has also received a number of other honors including the American Campaign Medal, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Army of Occupation Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars. After the service, Ernie finally married his girlfriend, and went to work in the communications field. He remembers working on the first computers that were the size of an entire room. He also was involved somehow in making the plastic that Coca Cola now comes in, and helped the University of Connecticut build bomb shelters. He even showed me when one such make-shift bomb shelter was in his own home.
Sergeant Maynard and I particularly had a great time talking about The Battle of The Bulge and the different passwords the Americans used like Doc Blanchard (The great Army running back for West Point) to identify Germans who had infiltrated our lines. All I have to say after meeting Sergeant Maynard is, “WOW!”
- Ernie, did you always know that you wanted to serve?
Yes. I always wanted to serve even if that meant that my girlfriend was going to have to wait to get married. I was not going to let her marry a man that might get shot up. The army said they’d pay me $96 a month, I told them I’d do it if they sent $85 of my $96 a month home to my parents who were really struggling to make ends meet. They did it and I served my Country.
- I’m wondering if you can help us understand what you attribute your success to.
I attribute my success to my attitude of service first. I also have to give credit to the people that were there to help me along the way. Furthermore, I also attribute my success to my ability to see a need and have the courage to step in and fill that need.
- What do teens need today more than anything else?
Teens need somebody to look up to. I speak at schools often, and one of the analogies that I use is the eagle. I tell kids to watch the eagle soar. It comes down, and then it shoots up really high giving it it’s all. It doesn’t just go halfway, or make a half of an attempt to soar high. It gives its all and soars as high as it can. Kids need to give it their all, and stop half-trying.
- What would you tell a teen who was struggling?
Don’t follow the crowd. Pick one good buddy that you can trust and stick with him through thick and thin. With one good buddy, you can work things out. Once you go beyond one good buddy, the dynamics change into that of a group setting and things get complicated there. You don’t need a lot of friends. You only need one good friend.
- Can you please share with all of us something else that I should have asked you?
You should have asked me about my education. I only had three months of high school and then I went off to the military. The military was basically my hands on education. I learned so much in the military. After the military I was self-taught through booklets and pamphlets, manuals, or whatever else I could get my hands on to read in order to learn how to do something. I became a self-directed learner.
Thanks for your time Sergeant Ernest Maynard and keep up the good work! Our youth needs more people like you!
Author and Speaker of the Granddaddy’s Secrets teen leadership book series.