Ivan Bohdan, the First Ukrainian American Veteran?
Was Ivan Bohdan the First Ukrainian American Veteran?
During the 1980s and 1990s, Ukrainian American active duty, Guard and Reserve officers stationed in Washington, DC held an annual dinner at the Fort Myer Officer’s Club near or on 22 January, the day Ukrainian independence was then celebrated. There were over two dozen of us. One year Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was the speaker. Since the event was open to the Ukrainian American community, we had a large turnout.
As the historian for our group, I read a brief history of Ukrainian Americans who have served in the United States Armed Forces. That evening I mentioned that there was a Ukrainian settler in the Jamestown, Virginia colony. I got a big laugh since the civilians were skeptical, but our cohort of Army, Navy and Air Force officers gave me a big hand of applause.
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The history of Ukrainian American military service is almost as old as the United States itself. Ukrainian Americans have served in every conflict since the American Civil War, and we continue to serve today.
Ukrainian Americans have a long history of service in the US Armed Forces. A few Ukrainians served in the Civil War; a few may have served in earlier wars as well. With the immigration of large numbers of Ukrainians to the US in the 1890s, several dozen Ukrainians enlisted in the US Army in 1898 during the Spanish American War. They were largely from Pennsylvania and all had been born in Ukraine. Their service was brief but significant to our history.
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Did you ever wonder which are the oldest American veteran organizations? When you think of the oldest American veteran organization, you probably think of the American Legion or your local VFW post. You might be surprised to learn that the VFW and American Legion aren’t the oldest. In fact, they aren’t even in the top five (the VFW barely cracks the top 10).
Or perhaps you consider the traditions of the US Navy, so you might guess that the Navy League is oldest. Nope, not even close.
Oh, don’t forget the ethnic associations like the Jewish War Veterans, Italian American War Veterans, Ukrainian American Veterans and the Polish Legion of American Veterans; those are all pretty old, but none of them are the oldest.
The honor of the oldest American veteran organization falls to…
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