It was 1951, and the Korean War was raging in the Eastern hemisphere. Ambridge native Robert Sparcie had never traveled far from Beaver County… until he boarded a train bound for basic training.

Live ammunition whizzed over his head during obstacle courses. Some soldiers could not read or write… some went barefoot because they owned no shoes. Sparcie quickly learned “everyone is not the same” as he was shipped off to Camp Fuji, Japan.

“You don’t know anyone from a cake of soap,” he says of his early days overseas.

Yes… there were language barriers, cultural differences and homesickness to overcome. But through warm hearts and a willingness to embrace the unknown, soldiers celebrated their differences and united as comrades and Americans.

Sparcie bonded with men from New Jersey, Alabama and Michigan…. they were of Polish, Italian and Serbian descent. They learned each other’s languages, traditions and music. Their chief commander purchased a record player to lift their spirits.

After all… music is universal.

Sparcie’s father shipped records of all genres overseas… Serbian music… Italian arias… symphonies. The men gathered and shared the music and stories that made each of them unique… yet so similar.

Sparcie was discharged just prior to Memorial Day 1953. Each day, he salutes the flag and greets passersby with a warm “hello” – the same small gestures that inspired friendships, bravery and greatness so many decades ago.


Robert Sparcie is a resident at St. Barnabas Beaver Meadows. Thank you for your service, Mr. Sparcie.