- The Washington Times - Monday, October 9, 2006

Orie Young Jr., a longtime Washington-area resident who retired as deputy director of the Department of Defense’s Legislative Reference Service, died Oct. 2 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 85.

He lived at Greenspring Village in Springfield.

Born in Logan, W.Va., Mr. Young graduated from Duval High School in Griffithsville, W.Va., in 1937.

Unable to find work in his hometown, Mr. Young tried the state’s capital, Charleston, where he manned a broom in a grocery store by day and a mop in a cafe by night. What little time and money he had went for a two-year business course at the Capital City Commercial College.

By 1940, however, “There seemed little point in pursuing a civilian career when it was obvious that war was just over the horizon,” Mr. Young told a friend. “So, like thousands of other young men, I joined the Army, hoping to get in on the ground floor and make sergeant or something.”

Mr. Young was sent to Fort Ord, Calif., then to Camp Claiborne, La., in a cadre to organize and train a contingent of 250 draftees who would make up an independent unit called the 254th Signal Company. In time, he became the company’s first sergeant — its top enlisted man.

Mr. Young was sent to Honolulu to help organize a then-unique Army unit that consisted at its beginnings of former newspapermen and photographers — all enlisted men — who were assigned in pairs to infantry regiments bound for island invasions.

The unit’s purpose was to augment the coverage of the war in the Pacific. The vast distances involved (a thousand miles was called “across the street”) and the frequency of simultaneous invasions of widely scattered islands had spread the ranks of civilian correspondents quite thin.

The combat correspondents filled the gap.

Mr. Young saw action in the invasions of Leyte in the Philippines and Okinawa. After World War II as a reservist, he was called to duty in the Korean War and served for a time in the District.

Upon his retirement from federal service in 1974, Mr. Young was awarded the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Medal.

A tireless outdoorsman until his later years, Mr. Young was a member and twice president of the Department of Defense’s Rod and Gun Club and frequently led its members on hunting and fishing trips into the Virginia mountains.

Mr. Young is survived by two daughters, Sandra Nusbaum of Alexandria and Patricia Mattes of Manassas; and four grandchildren.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide