Service Medal

Generations of Mike Redmond’s family have headed into harm’s way with saintly protection.


One night in 1944, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Martin Boone, Sr., and his bomber crew dropped a couple tons of explosive destruction on Nazi Germany, then turned their B-24 back toward home base in England.

They never made it.


The B-24 Liberator was shot down over occupied France that night. Several members of the crew died when the plane crashed into a farm field, but Boone survived.

For generations to come, that would be the last time a member of Boone’s family headed into harm’s way without saintly protection.

In World War II, Boone was a crew chief and pilot in the Army Air Corps, the precursor to the U.S. Air Force. Later, he would become stepfather to Mike Redmond, Regis’ associate vice president of physical plant and capital projects.

Redmond said his stepfather flew B-17s until the Army started to prefer B-24 bombers, partly because the Liberator could fly farther and carry more payload. Crews who flew them though, complained the B-24s were more vulnerable to enemy gunfire. They nicknamed them “the flying coffin” because there was only one exit, which made escaping a doomed plane extremely difficult. Boone and his crew — typically seven to 10 men — were on their way back to base in England in their bomber, which they’d named the Never Mrs., when enemy fire downed the plane.

Boone and his crew crash-landed the Never Mrs. near the Belgian border. With help and shelter from members of the French Resistance, the crew improvised repairs to the damaged aircraft.

Although France had surrendered to the Nazis in 1940 and was officially under German control, secret cells of opposition had been operating throughout the country ever since, aiding the Allies in various ways, including forming networks that helped soldiers and airmen.

Along the way, one of those resistance volunteers gave Boone something he — and later generations of his family who likewise served their country — would treasure: a Medaille Miraculenuse, or Miraculous Medal.

While many men went into battle protected by St. Christopher — the patron saint of travelers, bachelors and transportation, among others — the Resistance volunteers chose to bestow a medal that offered what might be called a higher level of protection, and a particular favorite among the French faithful.

Which is just what Sgt. Boone did. Eventually, the remaining crew flew the crippled Never Mrs. to Sweden — officially a neutral country — where she landed on her one still-working engine. Still more repairs allowed the plane to hobble back to England, where Boone was assigned to another plane — only to crash land again in Sweden.

Boone spent the rest of the war interned outside Stockholm. When he came home, he brought a Swedish bride, and the medal, with him.

Boone and his wife had four children before divorcing. Not long afterward, he became re-acquainted with an old friend named Rose Anne, a widowed mother of four children that included a young Mike Redmond. “My dad died when I was five months old,” Redmond said.

“My mom and my stepdad knew each other growing up,” Redmond said. When they reconnected, “He had four kids, we had four kids.” Initially the large, blended family lived in New York City; later they moved out to Long Island.

Years later, when it was Redmond’s turn to serve, much had changed since World War II. The Vietnam War deeply divided Americans, with many calling the conflict unjustified and openly questioning the judgement of the government and the military that were waging it.

Nevertheless, Redmond followed two of his brothers and enlisted in 1973. “I needed something to level me out,” he said. “The Air Force did that.” While he is technically a Vietnam-era veteran, he didn’t see combat there, but one of his brothers did. “...and it changed his life and personality forever.”

Redmond worked with Air Force civil engineers establishing and maintaining U.S. air bases in Thailand and South Korea. Those bases supported the United States’ mission in Vietnam; for much of the war Thailand served as a major staging site for aircraft that conducted bombing raids over the border.


Later, he would view the war as being handled incorrectly and his brothers would question the political system that pursued it. “But the original intent to stop the spread of [Communist] aggression never went away. While our country wanted an end to an unjust war, the threats still remained,” he said.

When Redmond left the country, the Miraculous Medal went with him.

His stepfather had the medal blessed, then gave it to him, passing along the protection it provided to another generation.

Redmond can attest that men fighting for their county often relied on divine protection, which they proudly wore around their necks. “In my 21-year career in the military... I used to verify the items they would be taking in deployment and would see many who had [a] medal. It is a great feeling to have your faith when you are going into unknown territories.”

Fast forward a couple of decades, and Redmond’s son, Sean Redmond, followed family tradition by enlisting in the military. Generations of family members with military experience — both on his father’s and his mother’s side — advised him to stick to aviation. So, he turned to air traffic control in the Navy, which he eventually left to spend a couple of frustrating years as “the most over-qualified truck driver ever.”

Once again, military service called. The second time around though, he chose the Marine Corps. “Boot camp at 30 nearly killed me,” he said, and becoming a corporal at that age, with younger people outranking him, was also a challenge.

But the Marines put his air traffic control skills and experience to work fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan twice. Of course, he didn’t go alone. “Getting ready to deploy, my dad pulled me off to the side and explained the significance of the medal to him. I promised I would bring it back, and I did.”

His second Afghan deployment with the Marines put him at a helicopter landing zone and refueling point in Helmand Province. In addition to improving the landing zone, Marines there were charged with stabilizing wounded fighters who were being evacuated to the British-operated Camp Bastion.


“Pretty much if somebody was hurt and they weren’t going to live long enough to get to Bastion, they’d stop off with us.” Sean Redmond is proud his Marines were able to reduce the transfer time between the base and a hospital from nearly an hour to less than 20 minutes. “In the last six months we did not lose a single case,” he said.

Meaningful as that achievement was, “What’s rewarding was that I came home with all my guys,” he said.

He doesn’t see as many servicemen and women with likenesses of saints dangling from their necks as his father did. “That’s a concept that’s slowly being lost through the generations,” he said.

“But knowing how much it means to [his father] it meant a lot to me as well. “It was important to have it with me while I was deployed,” both with the Navy and the Marine Corps. Now in his 23rd year with the Marines, Sean Redmond is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona and contemplating still more years of service with the Marines.

Both Redmonds say they are proud of their service and grateful for the opportunities it gave them.

“When I see adversity and freedom of speech it makes me proud because I have seen many other countries, where such things aren’t tolerated,” Mike Redmond said.

“At the end of my life on this Earth I will provide the medal to Sean for safe keeping. I am sure it will be used again because our family has 96 years of military service to their country.”