By Naoko Branker
Patrick McCourt, 68, is a Vietnam veteran who worked in defense communications as a civilian. He was discharged as a second lieutenant, and now works for the National Park Service in their living history group, The Ill Tempered Men.
The Ill Tempered Men wear historically accurate uniforms of servicemen in the Civil War, World War I and World War II.
“The veterans that come, especially the World War II veterans, just love the fact that we’re wearing their uniforms,” McCourt said. “I was wearing an Ike jacket [for former President Dwight Eisenhower] with my patches, and a guy got out of his wheelchair and ran to me.”
McCourt’s father served in the military for 41 years, and during that time, McCourt met many influential people, he said. The historical significance of meeting these people stuck with him, McCourt said.
He has been working with the The Ill Tempered Men meeting with veterans at memorials for the past five years. While there were volunteers to help with Veterans Day events, McCourt said, there was nothing to give the public a sense of what it was like during the World War II era.
McCourt said the group meets with veterans at the World War II memorial from mid-March to November 14.
He said he receives much more from meeting veterans than he is able to give them.
“The feelings and the emotions and the stories are just tremendous. We want to be here for those veterans,” McCourt said. “I almost shed a tear almost every time.”
He added that these moments are fleeting but make a lasting impact. McCourt met with a veteran who seemed healthy for his age. Twenty days after they met, the veteran died.
“His daughter wrote me and said what you did for him in 30 minutes at the memorial was some of the best memories he ever had,” McCourt said.