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Lewis Soares Sr. joined Army, became a citizen

February 22, 2011

Lewis Soares Sr., left, served in World War II, then saw his son, Lewis Jr., join the Navy.

My father, Lewis Soares Sr., was born in Lisbon, Portugal and came to the United States when he was 3 years old. Because his father had died in Portugal, his mother remarried.
During his youth he worked with his stepdad who had a fruit and meat peddling business that was located in Pawtucket.
When he became of age around 1938/1939, he made the decision to try and enlist in the Army where Europe was having its turmoil. He was denied enlistment because he was not a U.S. citizen. Shortly after that, he married in 1939 and went on to become assistant manager at the United Public Market of Pawtucket across from City Hall.
In 1943, his brother had enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and in 1944 my father was drafted. At that time, my sister was 4 years, I was 2 years and my little sister was 3 months old.
My father at first was extremely upset because he felt because he unable to join the army, being drafted with 3 small children was unfair.
My father also said at that time that if he had $500 cash, his name would have been placed on the bottom of the list of draftees which he always felt was unfair because only the extremely rich could afford the fee and he wasn’t rich at all.
After being drafted and shipped overseas, one of the officers realized that my father was not an American citizen. That needed to be corrected before the ship landed. So while on board ship, my father became a citizen and his name was changed from Luis to Lewis Soares.
While serving in Naples, his brother, Frank Santos Sr., had already been in the Army Air Corps for about a year and did not know that his brother, Lewis Soares, Sr., (stepbrother) had been drafted.
As my father's unit was preparing to leave Naples for another battle front, he met his brother Frank, who was with his battalion as refreshment troops. They did have and opportunity to talk about home and the horrors of war and at that time my father's picture was taken with him and 2 of his buddies, which was given to him after the war.
None of those in the picture survived except for my father. He always treasured that picture.
Upon returning from the war, my father returned to United Public Market hoping to regain his old job as Assistant Manager. That was not to be. His job was reduced to nothing and the person he had trained became his boss (assistant manager).
Eventually, my father began his own successful grocery business.
My father was extremely proud to be an American Citizen, a Serviceman, and he became a life member of the Amvets and VFW. He died and was given full military honors and now rests in Swan Point Cemetery.
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: Readers are invited to submit their own oral history of a family member’s experience with military life. Just write your story in a word document on your computer, attach the document to an email and send it to this address:
veterans@woonsocketcall.com

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