SHOWCASING LOUISIANA: Livingston Parish family has long lineage of military service stretching back to WWI

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 8:08 PM CST
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LIVINGSTON PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Louisiana has many great families which have made incredible sacrifices to the protection of the United States and its freedoms.

One of those families has a legacy that spans at least five generations, with a family member serving in every American war since World War I.

“I couldn’t see myself not contributing to that,” said Reed Salassi Jr.

Salassi was a student at LSU at the height of the Vietnam War. Following in a long line of footsteps, he volunteered for service. For him, volunteering was in his DNA. His father fought in World War II in the Philippines. It was an experience he said his father never talked about.

The deep legacy of service was one he married into as well.

“I had some terrible dreams about fighting there at the Battle of the Bulge,” said Milton McNabb in a recorded interview with the National World War II Museum.

The family provided a copy of the interview, which was done before McNabb’s death, to help tell the story of the family. McNabb, who was Salassi’s father-in-law, was a sharpshooter during the war. He received a Purple Heart for injuries he suffered during the Battle of the Bulge.

“Two boys, one in the back of me, one in the front of me, were killed by the same shell that I was hit by,” explained McNabb during the interview. “The artillery came and it was a tree burst.”

“I got hit in my upper right shoulder next to my spine,” he added.

Before him, McNabb’s father, Joseph, fought in World War I.

“It was trench warfare then. He was gassed. He had bad lungs,” stated McNabb.

War stories like this have been passed down from generation to generation in the Salassi family. Since Joseph McNabb served in World War I, a family member has fought in every single American war since.

Salassi’s sons, Gawain and Garrett, served after 9-11 in Afghanistan and Iraq. Salassi’s grandson, Gavin Lake, is now serving in the Army Reserve. Lake’s other grandfather served in Korea.

Gawain Salassi posed for this picture while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Gawain Salassi posed for this picture while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan.(Family)
Garrett Salassi greets children while serving in Iraq.
Garrett Salassi greets children while serving in Iraq.(Family)
Gavin Lake (middle) smiles after graduating from US Army basic training.
Gavin Lake (middle) smiles after graduating from US Army basic training.(Family)

“Once I got in, I understood where my father and my grandparents had come from,” said Garrett Salassi. “[I] had kind of wanted to serve because they continue to make sure the states had their freedoms.”

This Veterans Day, the matriarch, Linda Salassi, said she is looking back on her family with pride, knowing her family has played its part in protecting America.

“I’m very proud,” said Linda Salassi. “Very proud, very proud of my grandfather for serving in World War I. I’m very proud of my dad and his dad for serving his World War II. My sons, I’m extremely proud of them.”

More than the legacy, though, This Veterans Day, Reed Salassi Jr. said he is proud of all the men and women who have given up so much in service of the nation so he can continue flying the Stars and Stripes in front of his home.

“It does me good to see that we still have people that think being in the service is a worthwhile activity. I mean, if we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t be around,” added Reed Salassi Jr.

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