Freedom is not Free by Ashley Persyn
Joe Fehling | 6-7 Cuban Missile Crisis
There is a price we pay for freedom For it is not truly free But rather paid for by the contributions of veterans To buy our liberty
Lee Widhelm Korea | 4-5
As their blood drains from their body and runs like a river through the grass Over the years itâ€™s forgotten, war is placed in our past I donâ€™t think we all realize the importance veterans play as they voluntarily serve America each and every day
Otha Vobernik World War II | 8
We should honor the veterans for they act like a shield Protecting us from danger, keeping America healed. So if you would take a second to commemorate You will instantly see We owe veterans our gratitude
Leighton Reid Vietnam | 9
For they are the reason we are free
Keith Swank Iraq | 16
Harold Menze | 2-3 World War II
Jim Roe | 12-14 Vietnam
Lacey Young Atha Iraq | 18-19
A Special Supplement to the
Tuesday | November 6, 2012 20 pages
2 | Chariton Valley News Press
Harold and Betty Menze reflect on starting married life as Harold served during World War II. By Karla Britt Former Salisbury school superintendent, Harold Menze began his teaching career in the Coast Guard. With two years of college behind him, 19-year-old Harold walked into the St. Louis recruiting office to enlist in the Air Force. â€œThey said I had a heart problem and wouldnâ€™t take me. So I walked down the hall and joined the Coast Guard,â€? Harold explained. â€œI left for boot camp in Grafton, Ill. on Nov. 8, 1941.â€? â€œYou just did. Everybody did,â€? was Haroldâ€™s answer when asked why he continued to enlist. Because Menze had college credits, he was sent to Aberdeen, Md. to be in the first chemical warfare class. First Class Menzeâ€™s first assignment was to train recruits in chemical warfare at San Juan, Puerto Rico where he was stationed for 18 months. â€œThatâ€™s what I did all the time I was there. I trained recruits from the army, navy, marines and air force in chemical warfare,â€? Harold stated. Menze and two other officers were privileged to have lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt during that stint. She was on a USO Tour and â€œjust as nice as could be.â€? Back home in St. Louis, Haroldâ€™s sweetheart, Betty Keithley had been recruited to teach seventh and eighth graders in her hometown of Center. â€œThey promised me I could leave when
Harold came back. There was such a shortage of teachers. Everything was rationed. They were rationing meat, butter, sugar, even shoes. The farmers were lucky. They had stamps for gas. To move me from St. Louis to Center, a farmer had to bring a load of coal to St. Louis in his stocktruck and then they loaded my things for the return trip.â€? Betty says Harold was a good letter writer. â€œHe wrote a letter every day. Not the loveydovey mushy letters. He wrote a page about what he did each day.â€? The letters were why Harold proposed to Betty. â€œHe told me Keithley (Bettyâ€™s maiden name) was too much trouble to write. Would you like to change your name to Menze? It would be a whole lot easier to write.â€? They were married on May 27, 1944 and attended a Cardinals baseball game for their honeymoon. Shortly after Harold and Betty were married Harold was stationed in New Orleans and then assigned to Mobile, Ala. Betty went to Alabama with Harold and taught school there while Harold served on a buoy tender ship, the USCGC Magnolia WAGL-231 (Maggie), that set depth charges to ward off German submarines. â€œOne day they had just a skiff of snow and they dismissed school. The kids were so excited when those flakes of snow came down,â€? Harold mused. â€œI had an experience there. When we were coming in one night about midnight, a big cargo ship that had left Mobile with its first load hit us midsection. Our ship went down in two minutes. We saved every man but one â€“ never did find him. He was one keeping watch. Some said he jumped overboard, but we never found him.â€? Lieutenant Colonel Ted Allan Morris, USAF Retired, recorded: â€œThe Magnolia had just cleared the sea buoy in the Gulf of Mexico preparing to enter Mobile Bay. The time was 2328 hours, 24 August 1945. â€ŚThe â€œMaggieâ€? was rammed amidship and sunk by the SS Marguerite Le Hand, a brand new 18,000-ton type C-3 cargo vessel on its maiden voyage. The Magnolia and Marguerite Le Hand had exchanged one blast of the whistle signaling for a port to port passing when the Marguerite Le Hand came hard aport. The Magnolia went hard astarboard in an attempt to avoid collision and was rammed amidships, the bow of the Marguerite Le Hand slicing deep into her port side. Almost immediately, the Marguerite LeHand reversed its engine and backed out, leaving a gaping hole in the magnoliaâ€™s hull
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
nearly to the keel. Having virtually no watertight compartments, the Gulf of Mexico poured in and the magnolia sank in less than two minutesâ€Ś Fifty-nine crewmembers survived primarily because the night was exceptionally hot. The ship had practically no ventilation into the lower crew quarters, so the majority of the men had gone topside to sleep wherever they could find a level spot. One man was lost in the sinkingâ€Ś Albeit while the Magnolia was not sunk by enemy action, it was the last major Coast Guard ship sunk during World War II and as the survivors would attest, the water was deep, oily, very wetâ€Śthe night very long waiting to be rescued.â€? â€œHe was all cleaned up when he came home,â€? Betty said. â€œBut he was sick from swallowing all that oil. I gave him a glass of milk and he threw up milk and oil.â€? see MENZE on 3
to all the veterans who have ever served our country
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This nation will A (660) 388-6448 remain the land R of the free only so long as it is the E home of the brave. A Jerry B. Boeger - Broker &)XZt4BMJTCVSZ .0t
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
WORLD WAR II
continued from 2 “I was an excellent swimmer. I never had the fear of water. My biggest fear was the oil burning around us. I was able to help another man. I had a life jacket, but he didn’t have time to get one. They said I saved his life, I don’t know. We were in the Gulf probably 45 minutes to an hour.” Betty said they joined a snake dance in the street the day the war ended. “We were in Mobile and a band showed up in the park and played and we sang and sang songs for I don’t know how long.” Take home pay from the Coast Guard was around $80 a month when Mr. Menze enlisted and he was earning around $150 a month when the war ended. Betty said, “I put his check back for later.” “I don’t know how she did it,” Harold shook his head. “Well, I was teaching. I lived on what I
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Curtis Ramsey, agent The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart.... should swell into graditude and rededication on this solemn occasion. Abraham Lincoln
Chariton Valley News Press | 3
“You just did. Everybody did,”
— Harold Menze’s response on why he continued to enlist made,” was the answer. Harold completed his education at Kirksville State Teacher’s College and was contacted by Mr. Bachtel from Salisbury about teaching school. “There was a housing shortage. Mr. Bachtel convinced Dr. Sweeney, who was a board member, to give us the apartment over his downtown office. Others got paid more, but we had a place to live, so that’s why we came to Salisbury.” Harold walked to school everyday and taught boys and girls P.E., world history, American history, citizenship, coached boys and girls
track and softball and started driver’s ed. His paycheck amounted to $2,200 a year. Mr. Menze eventually became principal and retired as superintendent of schools. Betty repaired frayed uniforms and helped Harold grade papers. Their three sons were raised in Salisbury and they too, “did what they had to” during the Vietnam War. “First Dan enlisted in the Air Force. He served in Ethiopia as a language interpreter. Jim flew important people in and out of Berlin while he was in the Air Force. Ed joined the army and served in Okinawa.” Last summer Harold lost his leg due to complications from diabetes. The couple now resides in a lovely assisted living apartment where Harold can maneuver his wheelchair freely. “You do what you need to do.” Harold smiled and pointed to his missing leg. “It’s like this. You do what you need to do. You just take it and go on.”
Veterans Day is an annual holiday when veterans of the armed forces are honored and celebrated in the United States. Many people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. While both days honor members of the armed forces, there’s a distinction between the two holidays. Memorial Day, which is celebrated in May, is a day designated for remembering servicemen and servicewomen who died while serving. Veterans Day, which is observed in November, honors all military veterans. The role of the brave men and women who serve in the military is an important one, and it’s one that warrants appreciation and celebration. The following are a few easy ways to celebrate veterans and their significant contribution to our country this Veterans Day. * Offer your thanks. Serving in the military can feel like a thankless job, as those who have not served might not be aware of the risks men and women in the military take and the sacrifices they must make to protect our country and help the less fortunate across the globe. As a result, something as simple as saying “Thank you” to a current service member or military veteran can go a long way. Veterans know they don’t serve in vain, but it’s still a great idea to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts and sacrifices. * Help families of active military. Many service members are currently stationed and serving overseas, and their families back home may need or just appreciate a helping hand. Invite family members of active military over for dinner, offer to do chores like cutting the grass or shoveling the driveway when it snows or help around the house if something needs fixing. Even if families of active members serving overseas appear to be getting along great, offer your friendship and let them know you’re there to help should anything arise. * Visit hospitalized veterans. Unfortunately, many veterans are hospitalized after suffering an injury during a tour of duty. These veterans sacrificed their physical well-being to protect our way of life, and many spend extended periods of time in the hospital. Visiting a hospital to get to know a veteran and spend some time with him or her, sharing a few laughs and thanking them for their service, is a great way to celebrate the holiday and lift a veteran’s spirits at the same time. Recruit friends and family members to visit hospitalized veterans as well. * Pay for a veteran’s night out on the town. Like many people, veterans appreciate an escape from the daily grind. Men and women who want to show their appreciation to veterans can treat a veteran to a night out on the town. Have extra tickets to a ballgame or play? Donate them to a local VFW. Or if you see a veteran out on the town, offer to pay for his meal. * Thank businesses who support veterans. Many businesses show their gratitude to veterans by offering them free services on Veterans Day. When a local business shows its appreciation to veterans, patronize that business and let them know you appreciate their efforts to help
4 | Chariton Valley News Press
Lee Widhelm participated in the Central Missouri Honor Flight in September 2012. The next flight will take place on November 6, 2012. By Melanie Latamondeer At the age of 23, Lee Widhelm of rural Brunswick took a leap into the unknown. He decided to join the Army. It was November of 1951 and many young men of his generation were being drafted. Lee hoped by volunteering, he would have a few more choices on the road of military duty. Lee was sent to Fort Ord, Calif. for basic training. After basic, he was assigned to a European command. He felt like he was one of the lucky ones since he was not sent straight to the war front in Korea. He was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany as a medical records clerk for the 4th division. He stayed at the position until Oct. 1953. Upon leaving the service, he went back to the farm. At times, he wished he had reenlisted for a while longer but his desire to get back to the farm spoke to him louder than the superiors trying to talk him into staying. He settled back into civilian life with ease. He came back to the states, got married and started a job working for MFA Oil Company. Although he wanted to expand his farming business, land was not readily available so when the opportunity came up to serve as the MFA Insurance agent in Brunswick, he took it. He served as the area agent for over 30 years. Lee said the most important thing the
Army taught him was to listen. “Don’t let it go in one ear and out the other.” The small but important lesson learned during his term of service served him well through the years as an insurance agent serving his clients. Lee was privileged to take part in one of Missouri’s Honor Flights in Sept. 2012. The 24hour trip was an amazing experience for Lee. There were five men from Brunswick but as they came together with all the Honor Flight participants, they were assigned to different tables so they would get to know other people. The program assigned one guardian to every three men. “They take care of you. I had one of the best! His name was Doc. To give you an idea on how good they were, when we got back from DC to Baltimore, Doc came up to me. I take medication and Doc carried it with him. I wanted to wait until we get back to St. Louis. He said that is a little late, you better take it now. That is how caring they were. He was terrific.” The group met and ate breakfast at the Marriott about 12:30 a.m. By 1:30 a.m., they boarded the buses and went to St. Louis with a police escort the entire way to the airport. The flight to Baltimore and a bus ride landed the vets in Washington D.C. about 9 a.m. where the tours of all the war memorials began. The entire trip took a little over 24 hours. Lee commented, “I dozed a little bit but it was so interesting you just couldn’t get tired.” “We went to World War II memorial first. I was surprised. I was looking for names because my uncle was killed in Germany during World War II. They don’t have names listed. They have a big circle with each state named. We went from there to the Korean Memorial. That was something. They have 13 statues of guys out there. They were all infantry and one marine carrying there weapons. They look like real M1’s. I don’t know how they designed them. The reason they staggered them is so if somebody threw a grenade in there it wouldn’t get them all at one time. It was a long memorial but very touching. We went from there to the Vietnam Memorial and from there to a women’s army memorial. I was getting kind of tired so I didn’t get out at that one. We went to the Air Force Memorial. They had three big arches way up in the sky all separated. How they designed them and got them like that I don’t know but it was something. We then went to Arlington to the change of guards. Those guys are there 24 hours a day. What struck me was when that hurricane went up through there a few years ago, the govern-
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
ment told them to stop marching. They said no, we’re not. They stayed right with it and marched. It is amazing how they take care of everything. It is immaculate. “ The trip home included a heart touching experience for the veterans. Lee reflected on the effect the Patriot Guard escorts had on him and the other veterans. “The Patriot Guard was very touching. I knew we were going to have a motorcycle escort. At Kingdom City, we saw flashing lights on both sides of the highway. The patrol had shut off all the exits on I-70 and the motorcycle escort was just north of us. When we drove by with the two buses, here they come. There were over 300 motorcyclists, some from out of state. They passed us one by one and waved to us as they went by. They escorted us right into the Marriott hotel. That is at 11:30 p.m. at night!” see WIDHELM on 5
take the time to say THANK YOU to a vet !
s ’ e v e t S e g a r a G
205 Crystal Bruswick (660) 548-3293
“America’s veterans have served their country with the belief that democracy and freedom are ideals to be upheld around the world.” - John Doolittle
CountyBank 116 West Broadway § Brunswick, MO
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
“If a grandson or granddaughter asked me about it today, I would tell them to go ahead and serve but pay attention. You may have to do something you don’t want to do but it could save your life.” — Lee Widhelm Honor Flight Participant
continued from 4 The next morning as the group assembled to eat breakfast, Lee ran into a man and his wife at the hotel he suspected were members of the Patriot Guard riders. He had on a Harley Davidson shirt so Lee asked him if he was in the honor guard last night. He said yes. Lee responded, “You don’t know how appreciative we were of you for doing that.” On the bus ride from the airport back to Columbia, the group was surprised with a mail call. Lee didn’t open his right away. He was going to wait until the next day but a conversation with the man who had read his changed Lee’s mind. As he went through the stack of letters, he was astounded with a letter from each of his children, their spouses and all his grandkids. They were all handwritten. Lee was shocked. “How could they have gotten that? This was all done two weeks ahead of times, unbeknownst to us. They worked with my daughter Diane. She got a hold of all the rest of them. It brought tears to my eyes. It was very touching.” When the Honor Flight participants
It is easy to take liberty for granted, when you have never had it taken from you. Unknown Thank you to our veterans for your service and sacrifice!
reached the hotel that evening, they were greeted by a large group of people. Lee’s wife, Irma, their two sons that live in Columbia and their wives were part of that group. Lee is a lifetime member of the American Legion in Brunswick and has been active in that group for 49 years. He is a Sergeant of Arms in Legion Post no. 7. One of his primary duties is to load the weapons for the military funerals, which the Legion members provide honor duty services for. The Legion also is trying to help the Salisbury Legion group since the fire that destroyed all their equipment. Their main focus is to help the community as needed including taking part in as many of the Veteran’s Day ceremonies as they can and sponsoring a Boys State participant every year. When asked to reflect on his service and what he would say to young men and women making such a monumental life decision in this era, he reflected for a moment.
We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
Chariton Valley News Press | 5
“I didn’t want to go but I’m glad I served. I could have gone to Korea as well as anyone else but I went to Germany and served as support for the men in combat. If a grandson or granddaughter asked me about it today, I would tell them to go ahead and serve but pay attention. You may have to do something you don’t want to do but it could save your life.”
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6 | Chariton Valley News Press
Joe Fehling served on the USS Essex as an air crewman flying S-2D trackers and helicopters on submarine tracking missions in the early 60’s. By Melanie Latamondeer There was just something about the Navy that pulled him in. Joe Fehling never really knew why he was interested in joining the Navy, but it always intrigued him. At age 17, he signed the papers. At that time, there was a program that if a young man joined before his 18th birthday, his initial discharge would be the day before his 21st. Joe decided that was a “pretty good deal” and a good way to see what the Navy was all about. He signed the papers in October 1960 during his senior year of high school. He was allowed to choose between San Diego or a camp in Michigan for boot camp. The long, cold winter months ahead made the decision a pretty easy one – San Diego it would be. It seemed like the perfect choice, almost. There were morning when the short sleeve uniform didn’t fully meet his needs when in was 32 degrees. From San Diego, Joe went to Memphis, Tennessee then Norfolk Virginia for electronics school. He ended up being stationed at Quonset Point, Rhode Island as a member of the VS34 Squadron and spent his service time training to and tracking enemy submarines. His eventual assignment landed him on the USS Essex as an air crewman. He was a member of a 4-man crew that flew S-2D trackers and helicopters off the carrier. The Essex’s homeport was Quonset Point. Originally a World War II carrier, the Essex had been decommissioned
and refurbished then brought back into service as an anti-submarine tracking carrier. Joe says he, “enjoyed flying off and on the carrier, that was a thrill.” He did have a few times when the thrill was more than he bargained for though. They came in one day and missed the cable. When they hit the deck, he thought the wheel structure was coming through the wings. The plane bounced up a couple of times and went off the side of the carrier. He looked up and saw the flight deck go by. A few seconds later, he saw the hanger deck. “We were 20 feet from the water when we started gaining altitude. I told the other crewmen, Doug, we are going to get wet.” They did come out of it unscathed but the experience was eye opening. The training missions Joe’s unit went on were mainly in Nova Scotia or the Mediterranean. The ship would be out for two to three months at a time. The first time Joe went to sea was in October of 1962, just three days before the Cuban Missile Crisis came to a head. They had cruised to Guantanamo Bay, the US base in Cuba for a training mission. As the carrier docked on Friday night, the men were given a weekend liberty on the base. The carrier was too big to pull into the harbor and dock at the pier so they anchored at sea and liberty boats took the men to the base. Monday was scheduled for the ORI otherwise known as war game training. Saturday morning at 4:30 a.m., reveille sounded across the ship. Joe recalls, “Everybody was thinking, what’s going on here. We are supposed to be here until Monday with no reveilre while we are in port.” A few minutes later, the PA system broadcast for the men to prepare to weigh anchor and go to sea. Within 15 minutes, all aircrew and pilots were required to report to the Red Room in full flight gear. The two squadrons on board reported and were told of the situation that had developed. The U.S. had proof of Russian missiles being assembled on the Cuban island, some possibly with nuclear warheads. From that location, the Russians could hit every major US city including Salt Lake City and San Francisco. Kennedy had tried negotiating with Cuba but since Castro and Khrushchev had become allies, that was no longer working. Kennedy and the United nations pulled a blockade and stopped shipments of everything to and from Cuba. They were no longer on a training mission. They were being sent out to track Russian submarines in full active duty. “We went out that day and started flying and watching the Russian submarines. My job
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
was to track these submarines with a sound and sonar system. We could track them by the sound waves. At that time we had to have special clearance to run all that equipment. It has now become obsolete with all the new technology. We also had MAD gear, which was Magnetic Anomaly Detection, which meant we could track the submarines using the earth’s magnetic field. Back then they had all conventional submarines and we could track their speed, and what type of submarine there were. We were tracking two or three all the time.” The submarines also had to surface in order to recharge their batteries. At one point the crew watched as a Russian submarine came out of the depths of the sea in order to recharge all the batteries and then submerge again. The USS Essex maintained 24 hours a day surveillance with 2 squadrons in the air at all times. Each squadron consisted of eight planes. This was the first time since World War II had ended that the U.S. maintained 24-hour flight quarters. For almost two weeks, the men on the Essex tracked Russian submarines and activity from the air in order to guarantee the safety of U.S. citizens. The reality set in for the men as the watched the activity unfolding below them. Freighters with large tubes were rolling through the water towards the Cuban shore. Joe and his crewmates watched as Marines from their carrier boarded one of those freighters for an inspection. Heavily armed, the marines spent several hours on board with the planes maintaining surveillance and support from the air. Joe said, “After the first day, we knew we were in the middle of something big. We worked around the clock until they pulled us out.” see FEHLING on 7
Fehling SMALL ENGINE
November 6, 2012 | Tuesday
continued from 6
Chariton Valley News Press | 7
CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS
One scene that played out as they flew missions one day stands out in Joe’s mind as somewhat funny but also a testament to the U.S armed services reputation. Every country has an invisible border three miles around its borders where no “enemy” is to cross into those waters or airspace. As the plane flew missions that morning and got close to the line, they dropped down to get pictures of a Cuban PT boat that was patrolling the border. As the plane dropped closer, the Cubans trained their guns on them. Joe recalls, “they didn’t fire, but they trained their machine guns on our deck. Our pilot radioed the carrier and told them what happened. The carrier radioed Key West Florida and they scrambled four jets down there. They flew by this Cuban PT boat. We flew by with our cameras activated and the Cubans were standing on deck with their hands in the air. It was kind of comical.” After almost two weeks of round the clock missions, the Russians agreed to back out of Cuba. By the end of November, U.S. surveillance accepted that everything had been dismantled and Russian missiles were no longer endangering U.S. citizens. About a year later, a treaty was signed guaranteeing everything had been removed from Cuban soil. Joe left the navy just short of his 21st birthday. The Exxus was set to go on another mission in the Mediterranean and was scheduled to be back before Christmas. Since this would have been past his scheduled out date, he was given the choice of going on the mission or getting out 30 days early. Joe chose to not go on the next mission and as it happened, it was a good choice. The ship hit a huge storm at sea and almost rolled the carrier. A carrier of that size can take up to an 18-degree
God Bless Our Military
J.F. Roling & Son, Inc. Salisbury, MO | (660) 388-6166
“Everybody was thinking, what’s going on here. We are supposed to be here until Monday with no reverie while we are in port.”
— Joe Fehling on hearing revelie as the seamen were called to service during the Cuban Missile Crisis
list before rolling. At one point in the storm, the ship rolled to a 16-degree list. They went dead in the water for 48 hours and lost aircraft that had been on 14-point tie downs. The mast was destroyed and hit an aircraft slicing it in half. Joe was discharged in October 1962 as an E5 second class anti submarine war technician. He went to work for a company in Bridgeport Connecticut. He met his wife Judy in Rhode Island. They married within a year of his discharge and lived on the east coast for three years. Joe and Judy moved back to Salisbury where he went to work for his dad in the implement business for a while before taking a job with Sander’s Decorating. Eventually, he took a job in the grocery business and made a career out of it. He later served as the Mayor of Salisbury for two terms. Joe looks back at the time in the service with pride. He went in as a young man looking to expand his horizons and that he did. He takes pride in his service and marvels at the changes in technology and tactics in the past 40 years. As the world situation changes almost daily, he admires the men and women serving in today’s military. Although the way we fight has changed, the danger they face daily still makes the armed services a position of pride and one that deserves the utmost respect from every citizen they protect.
ASHLEY’S SHEAR STYLE
“Fallout Shelter” signified the place to take cover during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. Government offices with basements housed food storage and welcomed students during after an American U-2 spy plane discovered nuclear missile sites being built by the Soviet Union on the island of Cuba in October of 1962. “For thirteen days in October 1962 the world waited – seemingly on the brink of nuclear war-and hoped for a peaceful resolution to the Cuban Missile Crisis.” – John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum Today’s baby boomers did not realize the seriousness of those “fallout shelter drills” when they skipped to the various locations throughout the United States. While Americans went about their daily lives, President Kennedy and his advisors were in “long, and difficult meetings” where they decided to place a naval blockade, or a ring of ships, around Cuba. “The aim of this ‘quarantine,’ as he called it, was to prevent the Soviets from bringing in more military supplies. He demanded the removal of the missiles already there and the destruction of the sites.” Parents and grandparents of those baby boomers could breathe easier when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and President Kennedy “publicly agreed to a deal in which the Soviets would dismantle the weapon sites in exchange for a pledge from the United States not to invade Cuba….Although the Soviets removed their missiles from Cuba, they escalated the building of their military arsenal; the missile crisis was over, the arms race was not.” Information from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
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8 | Chariton Valley News Press
Bucklin’s American Legion Post 57 Charter member Otha Vobornik in front of the original charter signed on August 15, 1955. By Karla Britt As Postal Clerk, Army Sergeant 4 Otha Vobornik undoubtedly was one of the most popular soldiers on Luzon Island in the Philippines. Seated in the Legion Hall of VFW Post no. 57, 90-year-old Otha laughed as he recalled receiving candy and cookies shared by soldiers when they opened gifts from home. “I had it made. The main cook was from Missouri. I told him if he didn’t give me a snack I wouldn’t give him his mail.” Home for Otha was just a few miles east of Bucklin at Lingo where he grew up in a mining and farming family who had immigrated from Czechoslovakia. It was on the family farm that 15-year-old Otha had a run-in with a pitchfork that would have stopped most young men from going to war. Otha went after a pair of white pigeons on the rooftop of the barn with bales of hay and a pitchfork. The pitchfork tines went up through Otha’s leg as he climbed down damaging the leaders of his leg. Years later, an Army Captain examining his foot while he was stationed in New Orleans asked him what he was doing there. They needed me. They needed all of us,”
Tuesday |November 6, 2012
was Otha’s answer. they dipped the uniforms in the river and beat Otha was 20-years-old when he enlisted. them on a rock. We had to furnish needles, He left for basic training at Ft. Leavenworth thread and buttons for them. just a few weeks after marrying his sweetheart, “The army gave soldiers a cigarette and Nathalee Siemens. It was Dec. 1942. Vobornik beer (Near Beer) allotment. I would sell the was trained for the railroad battalion and then cigarettes and send the money to his wife. The he was assigned to the training cadre to train army paid me $22 a month. and activate battalions. Nathalee was able “I was overseas when I received the teleto join him while he was stationed at Camp gram that Franklin Lavern was born. Two Crowder in Neosho and Fort Benning, Ga. But days later I received another telegram telling Otha wondered if he would ever see home me that my son had died.” again as he watched California’s coastline disMeeting other men from Missouri was appear from the deck of a “luxury liner,” the a help to Vorbornik. It was good to see men USS Euraline, re-equipped to carry 500 doc- from Macon, Marceline and Bucklin. tors, nurses and hospital equipment as they “There was talk of us going to Japan with headed for the Philippine Islands. Sixth Infantry. And then Truman changed all It was 120 degrees in the shade when they that.” reached Camp Luzon. They had to board LSTs On the voyage home aboard the USS Adto get to land from their ship – sitting ducks in miral they were hit with a typhoon. Otha was the ocean. Vobornik was assigned to a driver unable to eat for days and became deathly ill. and a guard and they went wherever head- A sailor from Maryville noticed how sick he quarters was set up to pick up mail. was and urged him to go the infirmary where “See that monkey in the picture,” Otha Otha was diagnosed with malaria and was pointed to the faded black and white pictures sick for months after returning home. mounted on a display board. “He got me into “The train didn’t make its usual stop in trouble.” Marceline the night I came home. It went right Seems Otha had tied the monkey to a through Marceline and made an unscheduled table leg where they sorted the mail and left stop in Bucklin,” Otha grinned. “It was the to do something. While Otha was gone, the middle of the night, but my family woke up.” monkey had retrieved mail from the pigeon hole boxes and was throwing it everywhere. That’s when the Postal Inspector walked in. “Whose monkey is that? Get that blankety-blank monkey out of here and don’t ever bring it back!” “I wanted to bring the monkey home with me, but it was a bigger problem to bring him home than me so I gave him to one of the new guys. Otha still marvels at the clean and sharply pressed uniforms the Filipino women returned to them. “We paid them two or three pesos (a peso was worth Bucklin Honor Guard Front row: Charles Hulett, Sue Wynee, Steve Burns about 50 cents) and and Leighton Reid. Back row: Don Foss, James Lee Jenkins, Wayne Kitchen, Jim Kosman, Norman Evans, David Molloy, Larry Mills and Robert Green.
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press | 9
Leighton Reid is the current chaplain the American Legion Post no. 57 in Bucklin. By Karla Britt Twenty-eight years later during the Vietnam War, Army Spec E5 Leighton Reid received a warm welcome home in Bucklin but his TWA flight from Oakland to Kansas City had been rather quiet. “I didn’t have any civilian clothes to wear home and had to wear my uniform. No one said anything but they looked away and wouldn’t talk to us. I’m so glad that things have changed. But they treat us good now,” Reid shrugged it off. “To my dying day, I’ll never know why they accused us instead of blaming the government. We were just doing what we were told.” Seventeen-year-old Leighton graduated from Bucklin High School in May of 1967 and he immediately enlisted so he could get six months out of the way. Following basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Reid arrived in Vietnam in time for the TET offensive (the surprise attack launched by the Viet Cong or National Liberation Front during a ceasefire agreement in honor of the Tet Lunar New Year celebrations.) “We were in our bunkers when I noticed some excitement down-line. Word reached us that there was a cobra slithering in our trench headed our way.” Suddenly the Viet Cong became the lesser of two evils. “Men were scrambling and climbing out of the trench. I heard a couple of shots and that took care of it. It was about three foot long.” Another incident made Reid chuckle as he told it, “We had to set up camp on the South China
Sea. They had us dig four-foot sandbag bunkers when we set up camp. I went to sleep on my cot and woke up with my arm in water and everything around me floating. The officers didn’t think about the tide when they ordered us to set up camp by the sea.” Leighton’s duties were in transportation. He was a light vehicle truck driver and hauled everything, including troops, c-rations, and bodies. Reid’s company lost three drivers after heavy rains caused loaded trucks to slide off the mountain road into a rice paddy. The heavy trucks were too much for the small helicopters they had available and it was too late for the drivers to be rescued when the Chinook helicopters arrived. Among the sites Leighton visited on his “tour” of Vietnam were Long Bihn, DaNang, Saigon River, Red Ball Beach, Quaing Tri Province. He was with the First Logistics Command to haul the First Calvary division in and out of the DMZ using night flares. “We could see the DMZ from our camp. We hauled companies in and out. It was a three day turn-around.” Sniper fire, elephants and leopards were always a concern but Reid said driving the one-lane mountain paths made him the most nervous. The road conditions made it difficult. “We would haul in a load of supplies and the enemy would rocket us and overrun the camp – it looked like a Joplin tornado. They wouldn’t shoot at us when we were empty. They’d leave us alone then. But we had it easy. It was those guys in the infantry who were sitting targets. We were moving targets. And we had good escorts – the military police and helicopter escort.” After a long trip back to the states by way of Long Bihn to Hong Kong to Oakland to Kansas City over New Year’s holidays, Reid was stationed at Fort Bragg for 18 months. Leighton married Deborah Vobornik, daughter of Otha and Nathalee Vobornik in 1970. Their son and daughter are married now and have given Leighton and Debbie seven grandchildren. The entire family is a member of the American Legion through the auxiliary or Legionnaires. After retiring from his career as a railroad conductor, Leighton has become an avid fisherman and hosts “Reel Sports Outdoors” on the Chariton Valley TV Channel. Their website is reelsportsoutdoors.com. Otha and Leighton are still at their post – American Legion Post no. 57. Otha is one of the 25 charter members when the Post was chartered Aug. 15, 1955. Including Otha, only four of the original 25 members survive though the Post has 155 members plus the Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion. He served as Command-
“... I went to sleep on my cot and woke up with my arm in water and everything around me floating. The officers didn’t think about the tide when they ordered us to set up camp by the sea.” — Leighton Reid
er for three years and Vice Commander for three years. Otha helped the Post work bingo for 25 years and the money built the first Legion building in Bucklin. These soldiers see that out military heroes are buried with honor and dignity, they protect our history by sharing their memorabilia and stories with students and they are fighting the battle to keep the benefits promised to our veterans. Leighton is Past Commander, District Veteran’s Service Operator and current Post Chaplain. Their Post meets the third Sunday of every month at 6 p.m. with a delicious supper prepared by the Auxiliary. A huge breakfast is served the third Saturday of the month with the exception of November when the Hall is reserved for a church bazaar. Over 100 of Bucklin’s trick-or-treaters were treated to hot dogs, hot chocolate, popcorn and candy at the Legion Hall. On Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, the Hall will be open for students to view memorabilia and visit with veterans about their military experience.
A pair of military boots, combat helmet and gun used during military rites at funerals are on display at the Bucklin Legion Hall.
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This Veteran’s Day, we honor those who have so bravely served this country and those who are currently protecting our freedoms.
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America is founded on the principle of freedom, justice, and liberty for all. Our nation’s soldiers serve every day to protect our country and its ideals. On Veteran’s Day, take a sacred moment to remember those who sacrifice their lives every moment to achieve peace and democracy.
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World War II
World War I Robert Allen John Baldridge Worley Banks Dick Blackwell Harold Blakley Russell Blume Roy Bryant Ora Clark Geo Conover Claude Duff Lawrence Farmer Hershall Fox Elmer Harridge Wesley Hedrick
Leslie Brammer Keith Burris Enoch Dobbins Raymond Marek James McConnell Billy Owens Everett Pieron Wayne Sommerfeld
Chester HiggenBotham Fleet Hilton Roger Hoffman Henry Hurst Horace King Heber Lee Albert Marcum Lance Massie Arthur Mattaney Wallace McAdams Lloyd McAllister John McDowell Geo Meyer Scott Milford
Vietnam Melvin Britton Dale Jackson Larry Jennings John Poeschl John Ponting Myron Renne Lonnie Wright
Novia Moore James Mott James Perkinson Jess Phillips Lovick Rucker Geo Schutte Hugh Stephenson Frank Stoner Mayo Taggart Woodford Thorne Harlo Williams William Witt Wesley Wright Roscoe Young
Desert Storm Steve Farnen
Leo Brzuchalski Julius Burton Richard Calvert William Carpender Charles Chapman John Clarkson Keith Collins William Covey Albert Coy Harold Crandell Everett Crisman William Dobbins Leonard Exceen Robert Friesz Everett Geromini Ralph Goff Robert Good Frank Grace Oscar Green Richard Greenwalt Eunice Guilford Enoch Gurst Arthur Hamilton Charles Hardwick
Gerald Hayward Charles Henke Fletcher Houston Joe Hubbard Marvin Huffecke Arlie Hunt Richard Iglehart Howard Johnson William Johnson Harry Klaus Alvin Kunkel Eugene Long Johnnie Long Orville Magruter Oliver Matthews John Mayer Franklin McAllister Harold Monnig Leo Monnig Eugene Moser Nelson Myers Aloysius Nanneman Floyd Parks Richard Pope Herbert Powell
James Powell Clifford Ratliff Leo Rice Marion Richardson John Roling Charles Sartain Edwin Schieni James Sellers Fredrick Sleyster Homer Smith Robert Staples Charles Stephens Harold Storke Raymus Syler John Thorne George Tichner Rudolph Tietjens Robert Traughber John Underwood William Vaughn Sydnor Webb Roy Welch Clarence Wiemer Winston Young
The men and women who serve in the United States Armed Forces are a special group of people. They go to work knowing it is their duty to serve and protect the United States in times of peace and conflict. Those serving in battle face every day knowing something could happen that will change their life and the lives of their families forever. That dedication and sacrifice is what allows the rest of us to enjoy the freedoms and liberties we so easily take for granted. We humbly pay tribute to those men from Chariton County who proudly served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice as they fought to defend our freedoms. May we never forget the true cost of liberty.
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Jim Roe of Keytesville faced backlash in the face of returning from Vietnam. He appreciates the respect today’s returning soldiers are shown.
By Melanie Latamondeer Jim Roe never had to ask what it meant to be a patriot growing up. He lived in a world that was swimming with them. His grandfather had served in World War I and his father and three uncles had all gone to battle during World War II. The family knew what it meant to serve and protect at all costs. Growing up in Sedalia, the family also understood fear in the face of communism. They watched communism unfold itself onto the world as Nikita Khrushchev beat his shoe on a podium and declared he would bury free countries, as the Berlin Wall went up between East and West Germany and as Castro came to power in Cuba. With Whitman Air Force Base just down the road and the fleet of B-52 bombers as a bull’s eye, they literally dug in as
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Tuesday | November 6, 2012
bomb shelters were consturcted as a precaution against a communist attack on the power of the United States Armed Forces. When the Roe family moved to Salisbury in the 1960s, the Vietnam War was heating up. As a junior in high school, Jim knew being drafted was imminent. Upon graduation, the only way to miss being drafted was a medical deferment or college. Jim was set to become a college student at Moberly Junior College. He enrolled in June 1966 to start classes that fall. July of 1966 delivered his draft notice with orders to report in August. Although his college schedule could have kept him stateside, Jim knew that eventually he would be drafted so he might as well “get it over with.” After eight weeks of basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Jim was stationed at Fort Polk, La. for advanced infantry training. Known as Little Vietnam, a report to duty at Fort Polk guaranteed he would be shipping to the front line soon. The infantry training was as much psychological as it was physical. The training officers fully intended to break the young men down and retrain them to be prepared and ready for battle.
Thank You Veterans
12 | Chariton Valley News Press
for your service to our country.
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After completing basic and advanced training, Jim was able to return home for Christmas before shipping out. His two-week leave ended quickly though as he boarded an airplane for his first ever flight – to Vietnam. The 40-hour flight included several stops including Honolulu and Guam. An unexpected overnight stay in Honolulu came courtesy of a failed engine on their aircraft after takeoff. The site of boats on the water from the plane windows brought thoughts of never making it to war but the plane landed safely. The reprieve was short lived and Jim soon found himself in An Khe, Vietnam as a member of the 1st Calvary Division Airmobile, 2nd battalion, 5th Cav. The battalion spent little time adjusting to the new country as within a week, Jim found himself in full combat with the Vietnamese enemy. Even though it was the dry season as the troops took to the jungles, the mountainous area where they were stationed could get cold. Soldiers found themselves lighting fire to Vietnamese money in hopes of generating heat. The worry of being too cold soon gave way to more immediate dangers. The next day the men found themselves in a firefight. The squad of ten men and five reinforcements found themselves on the outskirts of a fairly large village. They stopped every male from age 16 to 60 to question them and check for cards. Vietnamese men who were not carrying the proper identification were treated as suspects and questioned. see ROE on 13
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continued from 12 As the squad stopped two suspects, two more were seen running away from the group through a field. Jim and another new guy who had both been with the squad less than 24 hours were told to stay with the original villagers. As the chase progressed, one of the Vietnamese men jumped into a hooch and took off. When he decided to make a break on foot once again he was shot by the American troops. An American grenade was found next to him. The other fleeing suspect led the men into a field that surrounded the village. The field was full of trenches from previous wars that were covered in vines. The Vietnamese had three machine guns stationed around the field and began mowing down U.S. troops. The battle raged on throughout the night. Jim found himself sandwich between two big men as they trudged into the battle. A big cowboy from Montana was in front and another big guy carrying a M60 was behind him. As they made their way to the field of battle, Jim heard the machine guns open fire and bullets whiz past his ears. The cowboy was hit and fell into Jim’s arms. They were able to drag him into a trench and get out of the direct line of fire. The Montana cowboy had taken two rounds in the chest and was missing several fingers. As the battle continued into the dark of night, the soldiers in the trenches could hear their wounded comrades lying in the field around them. Some, they literally listened to die. About 2 in the morning, some of the soldiers gathered all the men’s belts and crawled out through the wounded looking for anyone still alive. They were able to hook onto the wounded, roll them to their backs and drag them into the trenches to be cared for as best they could under the circumstances. As the enemy fighters tried to make a run for it in the early morning hours, American troops were able to capture them and secure the machine guns. As the sun came up the next day, the squadron made their way onto the battlefield and collected their dead. Some they were literally picking up in pieces. Jim recalls that first day being the worst. His M16 had jammed and without the proper tools to release the casing out of the gun, he was left with a club to fight off the enemy. A lot of men from his unit died and all he could do for them was load them on helicopters and send them home to their families. The wartime living conditions presented challenges of their own. The only contact with family back home was by mail. Jim wrote to family when he could and his mom wrote to him a lot. Although the food sure wasn’t mom’s home
“It seemed redundant to come back and fight for the same area where you had already lost men. Take a village, then leave and let it go back to the enemy.” — Jim Roe, Vietnam veteran cooking, it could have been worse. The c-rations weren’t too bad at first but the longer you packed them, the worse they got. As a soldier in the First Calvary, they did get hot meals from the mess hall as the helicopters could bring them food in if they weren’t in combat. The soldiers were creative in developing treats for themselves. The men who were not coffee drinkers would save the cream and sugar packets from the coffee rations and spice up the hot chocolate packets. Jim was a very good tree climber. He could keep up with the best of the Vietnamese kids in gathering coconuts. When care packages from home included pre-sweetened Kool-Aid packets, the men would send Jim after the coconuts for the milk. A hole punched in the coconut and the KoolAid mixed in was a welcome change for the men. Jim’s tree climbing expertise did get him in a bit of trouble at one point. As he was scampering up trees and dropping coconuts for the troops, a Vietnamese woman came out of her hut and was not happy. Apparently, Jim’s aim wasn’t great and he was killing her baby ducks. The men were able to keep the coconuts but the army had to pay the upset woman for her ducks. The men basically had to fend for themselves when it came to hygiene. Creeks and village wells were their only source of water for bathing or laundry. At one point, Jim remembers going for three months without a shower. Occasionally, they would be close enough to a MASH unit to be able to sneak in a warm shower under the barrels of water that had been heating in the hot Vietnam sun. The men realized modesty was no longer an issue for them. Any place or chance they had at washing the dirt from their skin or clothes was taken, even with villagers watching. Although they carried ponchos to use for shelter in the rain and air mattresses, most of their nights were spent on the ground or in foxholes in the wide-open spaces. The men only got clean uniforms when they were unserviceable. They had to be ripped and beyond repair. Each battalion was supposed to be in the bush for six weeks, then stationed at base camp for two weeks as guards as a break. The battalion commander would always decline going to base camp when it was their scheduled two weeks.
Chariton Valley News Press | 13
Some soldiers would get so angry about not being given the break from the jungle that when they saw the commanders helicopter, they would shoot at it. They were angry for the lives lost during those two weeks when they should have been out of the jungle and in a somewhat safer environment. The American soldiers were in contact with local villagers everyday. Jim held a special fondness for the children. He would save the candy out of his rations to give to them when he could. Rations always included M & M’s and a special tropical bar the soldiers received because they did not easily melt in the heat. A sock tied to his pack provided the perfect storage container for the treats and made them readily available when he needed them. The war presented many challenges to the men. Lack of sleep kept the men on edge all the time. The heavy combat took its toll on them physically and mentally. It was particularly hard to come back to the same place time after time and have to retake it in combat. The American troops couldn’t just take over an area and call it theirs. Once they left, if they came back to that same field, they had to retake it again. Jim reflects on the emotional toll it took on the men. “It seemed redundant to come back and fight for the same area where you had already lost men. Take a village, then leave and let it go back to the enemy.” Easter Sunday morning, Jim’s company received Easter eggs in the field. The unit knew there was a big mission coming up since both Chinook and Huey helicopters were being readied. Jim had gotten back in the chopper and settled into his spot on the floor. The last man was making his way to the door when the sound of machines guns opening fire ripped through the air. see ROE on 14
The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.
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continued from 13
Jim watched as the fellow soldier took a hit. As the chopper took off, they made straight for the nearest MASH unit. Jim had taken a hit. He started to take his boots off thinking it was his feet but then the blood started pouring out further up his leg. Jim’s initial reaction was “Oh no, here comes the priest.” He found the entry point for one of the bullets in his thigh and stuck his thumb in it to try and control the bleeding. He had been hit in the femoral vein in his leg and had taken a shot in his calf as well. Once he got to the MASH unit, they were able to stop the bleeding. Jim found himself lying in a tent with other soldiers counting the wounded as they were brought in on stretchers. The soldiers found themselves with mixed emotions as more and more wounded came in. They would not transport the wounded to a hospital until they had enough to fill a C121 transport plane. The dread of watching more soldiers come in with wounds also meant they were closer to being flown out of the jungle and to a hospital for care. The soldiers were not supposed to drink anything either because of the imminent need for surgery. The hot, dusty air and the uncertainty of their injuries made the time drag. Jim was transferred to the base camp where they operated on him the first time. He was surprised when he woke up to find a small open wound where the bullet had entered. The scars from the shot were another story. The surgery to find all the shrapnel left a long physical scar across his limb. He also lost muscle from the explosive nature of the bullets. Jim was then sent to the Med Evac hospital and transported from there to Japan. His leg was reevaluated and sewn shut there and a complete mental evaluation was done on the wounded men there as well. Jim’s injuries left him on medical leave for over three months. After that he was reassigned to Yokohama, Japan, in a cold storage warehouse as a Quartermaster. The unit was a cold storage unit for the base commissaries. There were six soldiers on duty there with over 100 Japanese workers. The living conditions at the barracks were a complete opposite from the conditions in the field. Jim finished out his 14 months of service and was discharged in 1968 as an E5 Sergeant. Jim had an incident, as he made his way home, changed his outlook on the war and service for many years. He was discharged in San Francisco and made his way to the airport to get a flight home. The first flight back into Kansas City was not until the next day so he took a few
minutes to gather himself in the restroom before making his way into the lounge to soak in his first few hours as a civilian. He found a spot in the corner and settled in for the wait when he noticed an infantryman at the bar. He recognized the insignia on his uniform as being from a unit that had taken a beating in the field. The man was home on emergency leave for a family funeral. The only funerals that combat soldiers were brought home for at that time was parents, spouse or children. Jim’s grandfather passed away while he was in Vietnam and he was not allowed to come home. It had to be immediate family to qualify. A pack of four college kids began berating the soldier sitting at the bar. The phrases “baby killer” was particularly upsetting. As the kids continued to badger the soldier about killing people and his service in the war Jim found himself wondering “What did I come home to this is 1968.” He confronted the kids and told them if they wanted to pick on somebody, use him as a dartboard. He was just discharged and was headed home. The soldier they were picking on was going to have to go back to war and face the enemy again. He didn’t need to have to deal with the enemy at home as well. For decades after the incident, Jim would not acknowledge or talk about his service. He came home and went back to work in the construction job he left less than two years before. Eventually, he took the postal service test and served as a postal carrier for more than 25 years. After retiring from there, he held other jobs until he was employed as a deputy sheriff for Chariton County in 1999. At that time, Jim finally was able to take some of those college classes he intended to take in the 1960s which allowed him to fill the role of the Chariton County DARE officer. His involvement with the kids in the county schools and membership in the VFW and American Legion helped him eventually publicly take pride in his service in the Army. Watching the kids during the Veteran’s Day programs made him realize their need for examples of patriots in today’s world. Within the last five years, Jim has been able to shed some of the fear of people knowing about his time in Vietnam and proudly wears the insignia of the 1st Calvary and gear proclaiming his status as a Vietnam veteran. Jim kept in contact with a few men he trained and served with during his service. The atmosphere of the era made it hard to develop many life long friendships. Many times you only served with a man a short time before he was either injured, killed or reassigned. Jim did find himself in the hometown of one of the men
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
he served with decades after coming home. He grabbed the phone book just to see if the name he knew from the jungles of Vietnam had made it back home. The man was listed and after a few evenings of reflection, Jim gave him a call. After an evening of visiting, the truth came out. The fellow soldier thought Jim had died in combat. In total, only three men from their platoon survived the battles on foreign soil. Jim went into the war with a feeling of pride that he was doing his part to battle the spread of communism. Patriotism ran deep in his family and he felt he was carrying on the tradition of his grandfather, father and uncles in his service. He realized after coming home and watching all the protests on TV and the shame soldiers endured for having served, this war was well beyond the threat of communism. It was about politics and money. He is thankful for the change in attitude towards service men and women in today’s society. Even those who do not necessarily agree with the conflicts the United States is engaged in are respectful of the soldiers and the sacrifice they make. Jim still has lasting effects from his service time. The older he got, the more posttraumatic symptoms he noticed. Lack of sleep has always been an issue for him. The ongoing flares lighting up the night skies made everything look like it was moving in the shadows. The constant barrage of images made it nearly impossible to sleep and left Jim scared of the darkness. Nightmares are still a part of his world and even in his 60s he dreams of being drafted and being sent back to a war zone. Jim reflects on the life changing experience as life learning. “It was something that few people know. Good or bad, it was a life changer.”
We are eternally grateful to all our veterans for their sacrifices.
We are especially proud and humbled by our personal hero
Gary Sellers Vietnam Veteran
Sellers-Weis Insurance Agency
Agents: Debra Sellers & Doug Sellers
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press | 15
HISTORY OF VETERANS DAY
Information courtesy of History.com
The Great War and Armistice Day Though the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, Nov. 11 remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the Great War. In Nov. 1918, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business activities at 11 a.m. On Nov. 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Congress had declared the day a legal federal holiday in honor of all those who participated in the war. On the same day, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. On June 4, 1926, Congress passed a resolution that the “recurring anniversary of [Nov. 11, 1918] should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations” and that the president should issue an annual proclamation calling for the observance of Armistice Day. By that time, 27 state legislatures had made Nov. 11 a legal holiday. An act approved May 13, 1938 made Nov. 11 a legal Federal holiday, “dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be hereafter celebrated and known as ‘Armistice Day.’” In
actuality, there are no U.S. national holidays because the states retain the right to designate their own, and the government can only designate holidays for federal employees and for the District of Columbia. In practice, however, states almost always follow the federal lead. From Armistice Day to Veterans Day American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, Nov. 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars. The next development in the story of Veterans Day unfolded in 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which sought to ensure three-day weekends for federal employees--and encourage tourism and travel--by celebrating four national holidays (Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, Veterans Day and Columbus Day) on Mondays. The observation of Veterans Day was set as the fourth Monday in October. The first Veterans Day under the new law was Monday, Oct. 25, 1971; confusion ensued, as many states disapproved of this change, and continued to observe the holiday on its original date.
In 1975, after it became evident that the actual date of Veterans Day carried historical and patriotic significance to many Americans, President Gerald R. Ford signed a new law returning the observation of Veterans Day to Nov. 11 beginning in 1978. If Nov. 11 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the federal government observes the holiday on the previous Friday or following Monday, respectively. Celebrating Veterans Day Around the World Britain, France, Australia and Canada also commemorate the veterans of World Wars I and II on or near Nov. 11: Canada has Remembrance Day, while Britain has Remembrance Sunday (the second Sunday of November). In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every Nov. 11. In the United States, an official wreathlaying ceremony is held each Veterans Day at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, while parades and other celebrations are held in states around the country. Veterans Day is not to be confused with Memorial Day – a common misunderstanding, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Memorial Day (the fourth Monday in May) honors American service members who died in service to their country or as a result of injuries incurred during battle, while Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans--living or dead--but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.
America’s veterans by the numbers Since 1775, 41 milllion Americans have served
Vietnam War 8.8 million who served in
uniform were draftees 7.6 million are still alive today
Korean War 5.7 million served 2.7 million survive
Operation Desert Storm/ Desert Shield 2.3 million military personnel were involved 2.2 million survive
Information courtesy of Christian Science Monitor
World War II 16 million men and women were mobilized 2.1 million survive
Global War on Terror 1.4 million military personnel involved
16 | Chariton Valley News Press
Keith Swank of Keytesville is a 23 year member of the Army National Guard and serves as a recruiter for the organizaiton. By Karla Britt Army Sergeant Keith Swank from Keytesville currently serves our country as a recruiter for the Army/National Guard. Keith tells young recruits: “It is an honor to serve your country. Being deployed is part of wearing the uniform. Being a soldier will change your life. You will have lifelong friendships with people that you know will stand next to you no matter what.” Keith should know. His grandfather Donald Pekelder served under General George Patton
HONORING ALL WHO SERVED
during World War II. Dad, Wilferd Swank was in the Navy during Vietnam and served 13 years. Four uncles, two in the Air Force and two in the army (one with Vietnam experience) also “wore the uniform.” Swank admitted, “I thought I wanted to be a chef, but the more I heard my family tell military stories, I felt obligated to put on the uniform and serve my country. It was kind of a calling.” It’s hard to imagine the lean, mean looking soldier in the picture building sand castles while off duty in the of Iraqi desert, but Sergeant First class Keith Swank of Keytesville and comrades built castles in the sand, listened to music or played cards during time off from his duties as a military police soldier assigned to an infantry unit. For Keith, the most difficult part of serving during the seven months between Keith’s arrival in Iraq on Feb. 9, 2003 and his return home on Aug. 21, 2003 was not the 120 – 135 degree heat but “the constant feeling of not knowing if you or the guy next to you could be harmed or fatally wounded at any given time.” And the most enjoyable part of serving in Iraq was knowing that the soldiers next to him had his back at all times and laughing and crying together through thick and thin. Sergeant Swank served as a military police soldier assigned to an infantry unit from the Iraqi border to Diwaneyah with urban warfare clearing houses, patrolling busy streets, and wide-open desert. “The enemy would shoot at us and then hide in a mosque,” Keith remembered. “We did humanitarian efforts, handing out bottles of water and MRE meals. I think we made a difference, Saddam Hussein and his regime needed to be removed and now it is definitely better for women and children. Women can vote now.”
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Tuesday | November 6, 2012
Keith says a major difference for soldiers in Iraq and that of previous wars is having satellite phones. Soldiers could call home and check on their family. Some locations had Internet access. As a recruiter, Sergeant Swank realizes the importance of the support and understanding of family. Wife Brandy understands the military life. As a member of the US Army, Brandy served in Operation Noble Eagle by guarding an ammunitions plant after 9/11. The Swanks have two daughters, 18-year-old Kaylee and nine-year-old Cadence. Keith gives credit to his family for understanding his long hours at work and time on the road as he visits high schools, transports new recruits and attends training exercises and ceremonies at Fort Leonard Wood. And Keith’s grandfather who served with General Patton? Keith reports, “He is 88-years-old and I helped him go on an Honor Flight last year. He absolutely loved it!”
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Tuesday | November 6, 2012
Chariton Valley News Press | 17
VETERANS DAY PROGRAMS
Northwestern R-I Friday, Nov. 9 8:45 a.m. High school gym
Salisbury R-IV Monday, Nov. 12 1:30 p.m. High school gym
chariton cty courthouse Friday, Nov. 9 11 a.m. Court House Lawn
Brunswick R-II Friday, Nov. 9 9 a.m. High school gym
Marceline R-V Monday, Nov. 12 10:30 a.m. Fieldhouse
Keytesville R-III Monday, Nov. 12 1:30 p.m. High school gym
Segs4Vets fundraisers Sponsored by Regional Missouri Bank
Ketyesville Branch Keytesville Cafe Wednesday, Nov. 7 6-10:30 a.m. Salisbury Branch The Filling Station Friday, Nov. 9 5:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Glasgow Branch River Bend Restaurant Friday, Nov. 9 6:30-10 a.m. Marceline/Bucklin branches Mr. Goodcents (Marceline) Wednesday, Nov. 14 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Marceline R-V Schools are proud supporters of all Veterans and salute you at this special time!
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18| Chariton Valley News Press
LACEY YOUNG ATHA
After serving in the Army, Lacey Young Atha returned home to settle in civilian life and raise her family with husband Blake. By Melanie Latamondeer A teenagerâ€™s senior year of high school is full of dreams and questions. Where am I going to college? What am I going to study? Am I going to college at all? For Lacey Young Atha, she made one of the most important decisions of her life very early since she had already signed up for the Army in her junior year. She felt the United States Army would allow her to explore the world and see life outside of the small town of Salisbury where she grew up. Just a few short months later, she realized she was going to get a whole lot more than she originally bargained for. September 11, 2001 started out as a normal day of high school. As the speakers all came to life and every teacher was instructed to turn on the news for the classes, Lacey realized just how big of a commitment she had made. The students watched the news throughout the day as the events of 9-11 unfolded before their eyes. Laceyâ€™s mom called her at school. Fear of what was to come had set in for her family as
they realized Lacey would most likely be serving in combat duty. Lacey remembers her initial reaction was â€œOh my God, what did I doâ€?. She realized that even though she signed up for the job security and college benefits, her life was about to change in ways she never imagined. Two months after high school graduation, reality set in. She was sent to boot camp in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She was then sent to Fort Gorden, Georgia for seven months of job training in communications before being assigned to Fort Riley, Kansas as a communications specialist. Upon arriving at Fort Riley, she was assigned to the 3rd Brigade. She thought she had dodged the bullet! The 3rd Brigade had just gotten back from a tour in Iraq. Two weeks later she received notice that she was being reassigned to the 101st Forward Support Battalion, 1st Brigade and received her deployment notice. The weeks leading up to deployment were nerve racking for Lacey and her family. Her family actually made four trips to Kansas to â€œsay goodbyeâ€? then the deployment date would be changed. Eventually, the deployment became a reality and Lacey was stationed at Camp Ramadi in Iraq. The base was located on the outer city limits of Ramadi, Iraq. It was a communication center for the troops and they were in charge of all the communications equipment and correspondence between Iraqi bases and the United States. The only thing separating American troops from the Iraqi people and insurgents was a burm. Although the troops were not on the front lines of combat, the base served as a target for mortar attacks. The towers served as a â€œbulls eyeâ€? for the Iraqi combatants to try and hit with the unpredictable mortars. Few of the mortars actually hit inside the base. They did not have a means of accurately firing them at targets â€“ they fired and hoped they hit enemy posts. The gunfire and whistle from the incoming mortars was a sound that never went away for the soldiers on base though. Lacey also recalls doing shifts outside of the base in the town of Ramadi. Several of Saddam Husseinâ€™s palaces were built along side the Euphrates River. Although they were beautiful mansions, many had signs of being hit by the Iraqi mortars as well. Because the insurgents had no control over where they landed, the mortars hit some of their own national landmarks in an attempt to hit Americans. The living conditions within the base were an adjustment for Lacey. At first she was miser-
Tuesday | November 6, 2012
able. Temperatures during the day would top out above 140 degrees. She soon adjusted to the heat though because of the lack of humidity. Missouri summers with the extreme humidity seem hotter than the dry heat of the desert. The sand storms and sand fleas were two things she never completely adjusted to in the foreign country. She remembers the sand storms as â€œthe worstâ€?. It would literally peel your skin away. She remembers the sand fleas with a shiver, â€œthe sand fleas were awful. They are like chiggers only worse because they are everywhere. They are in your bed, your clothes â€“ just everywhere!â€? Lacey served eight months of her two and a half years in the Army in Iraq. During that time, she saw both the good and bad side of the Iraqi people and their situation. The soldiers interacted with the Iraqiâ€™s on a daily basis. American soldiers were in charge of guarding Iraqi trustees who came on base to do cleaning and construction. They were basically prisoners of the Iraq government. They had to be searched before entering the base because some would try to sneak weapons in but most had no intentions of doing harm. Some even were allowed to bring their children with them. Lacey enjoyed interacting with the kids and would even share things out of the care package her family and friends sent. Little things that she took for granted, like pop rocks, were a special treat for those kids. For the most part, the Iraqi people Lacey interacted with accepted the American troops as a positive presence. Lacey did have one incident that made her realize how split the Iraqi citizens were in their support of the United States troops. While on ATHA on 19BE LIFEâ€™S TOUGH - YOUR MEATsee SHOUDLNâ€™T
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continued from 18 duty one day, Lacey was assigned to accompany the trash truck picking up the base trash and transporting it to the dump on the Iraq side of the burm. Lacey had not received the complete instructions for the duty for some reason. She was not supposed to continue with the driver when he left the base since the troops were experiencing quite a bit of resistance at that time. As they pulled up to the dump, which could be seen from the watchtowers surrounding Camp Ramadi, Lacey could see up to 200 people digging through the dumped trash. As the driver started to unload the truck, some of the dumpster divers attacked both Lacey and the driver. The driver tried to get the people to leave her alone. She recalls one attacker that particularly scared her, â€œone kid, maybe 14, was trying to climb up the truck and grab me. I had to go through the rules of engagement and
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try to get him to get back and leave me alone. I showed my gun and ended up hitting him with the butt of it. â€œ She couldnâ€™t react by firing at any of them. The guards in the towers were watching but did not know she was in the truck. Had she fired on the attacker or the oncoming crowd, they would have no idea she was there and would have probably opened fire on the entire group. Thankfully the driver was an American supporter because he could have â€œthrown her to the wolvesâ€? but he stayed with her until she could get her back to the safety of the base. She also recalls an incident that made her realize that the Iraqi people had learned to live with the constant gunfire and mortar attacks. She was on detail with Iraqi carpenters at a building site. She heard the whistle of incoming mortar but couldnâ€™t see where they were coming from. As everyone was running for cover and hiding underneath anything they could find, she realized the kids were all still playing in the open. She started grabbing kids and trying to get them to safety. Everything happened in a matter of seconds and when the attack was over, she realized the mortar had hit right where the kids had been playing. The Iraqi people were so used to the sounds of war that they took for granted that everyone would automatically run for cover. Lacey realized that her reaction of pulling the kids to safety kept them from being killed by their own people. Laceyâ€™s service in the Army changed her outlook on life. She truly believes it made her a stronger person. She went into the Army as a shy, quiet girl and came out a confident leader who is not afraid to take charge if the situation needs someone in control. She believes â€œeveryone should serve. I would definitely encourage my kids to serve. It makes you appreciate what you have and makes you grow up. It teaches responsibility and work ethic. I didnâ€™t sign up to go to war but that is how it turned out. I was scared out of my mind but Iâ€™m glad I stuck it out and served because of the person it made
Chariton Valley News Press | 19
me. I wouldnâ€™t change a thing.â€? Lacey came home from the service a different person. She hates to watch the news because it just makes her mad. â€œThey only show the bad and none of the good.â€? Lacey settled back into civilian life right away. She returned to Salisbury and went right to work with her mom, the late Vickie Linneman, at the family restaurant before taking it over herself. She enjoys spending time with the rest of her family as well. She is the daughter of Gary & Barbara Young of Keytesville. She is married to Blake Atha of Salisbury and they are busy raising three children, Keirra Stringer, Kale Johnson, and Brantly Atha. She also joined the Cleve Iman Memorial VFW Post in Keytesville where she now serves as Quartermaster. She was first recruited to the VFW as they began looking for younger members to carry on the community service and veteranâ€™s work that has been the mainstay of the organizations mission since it was started. As Quartermaster, Lacey does all the bookkeeping, tax forms and audits, and is an active member of the service work the group does throughout the year. Lacey looks forward to Veteranâ€™s Day every year. She is actively involved in school programs and the program at Central Methodist University where she works. She uses her presence at the events to promote the military and to speak with potential recruits about the benefits of serving. For Lacey, Veteranâ€™s Day is a day to honor so many men and women who have unselfishly served the citizens of the United States. She is thankful for those who served before her and those who are willing to serve in the current world atmosphere. As she reflects on Veteranâ€™s Day, she speaks of everyone but herself. She truly understands the sacrifice made by members of the military without calling attention to herself for making those same sacrifices. She sums up her appreciation by saying, â€œthey stick their necks out to protect me and my family and I have a strong appreciation for every branch of the military.â€?
As Veteranâ€™s Day is commemorated this year, the staff at Chariton Valley News Press has a new-found appreciation for the service of the men and women of all branches of the military. A heart-felt thank you to all veterans for your service. We would also like to express our gratitude to the men and women who took the time to interview with us. Your stories need to be told in hopes that future generations will continue to appreciate the sacrifices of military personnel around the world.
Published on May 3, 2013