After the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950, many young men signed up for the Army. One of them was John McAuliffe, who lived on Dorchester Street, off Hopkins Street, near the Billerica - Wilmington airport. His brother Eddie was already in the Navy.
Johnny and Eddie grew up in Winthrop and moved to Wilmington with their parents in the late 1940s.
In April 1951, the Wilmington Selectmen received a letter from Johnny with a photo of a street scene in Japan, with grass in the street. Johnny expressed the hope that Dorchester Street is better than this. The selectmen would write to Johnny, and assure him that Dorchester Street will soon be in good condition.
He was soon in action in Korea, and on May 19, he was wounded. After a month in a hospital, he returned to duty. That November, he was awarded a Purple Heart. Returning stateside, he was stationed in Texas, where his treatment was unusually harsh.
The following story appeared in the Wilmington Crusader on May 21, 1952. Quite ironically, this was exactly one year and two days after he had been wounded in Korea.
“Johnny McAuliffe finds his double”
As all the world knows, Johnny McAuliffe of Dorchester Avenue is a fighting man who has seen service in all parts of the world. Johnny came home a few months ago from Korea and promptly went to bed.
After he had recovered, Johnny was sent down to Texas to join the 1st Armored Division. He requested overseas duty in Korea, and the Army granted the request, except it was to be in Germany.
Johnny couldn’t understand it, but he seemed to be getting a lot of extra duty in his new company. He would get called out for this and for that, more than anyone else in the company. He couldn’t understand it, but being a good soldier, he didn’t complain. He got up at 3:30 a.m. for KP, and then again the next day for the same thing. He was called for inspection, only to be called again the next day. Johnny got twice as much duty as every other man in the company.
Finally, one day while Johnny was manning the spud sack in KP, he was told that the finance officer wanted him to come and get his pay. This, Johnny knew, was definitely out of order, because he had just been paid, half an hour before. Johnny investigated. After all, who would refuse to answer a call for money.
In the finance office, the trouble was finally untangled. There were two John McAuliffes, and our John had been doing double duty for the both of them. The other John lived in New York City, and presumably had been spending the last couple of weeks snoozing, while our Johnny worked details for both.
He later reported another saga. Someone stole his camera. So he bought another, only to have it stolen, too. But then, he saw someone with the first stolen camera. He approached the soldier, who told him he had bought the camera from someone else. McAuliffe showed proof that he owned the camera, but then offered to buy it from the other soldier. They completed the deal and Johnny again had a camera.
A few months later, he was stationed in the Bavarian Alps. Maybe there's a story there, but the item in the Crusader only gave his new address.