|Wed, Oct 22, 2014 12:47 AM
|Issue of October 15, 2014
May 28, 2014 | 09:47 AM
Warm temperatures didn't keep many from celebrating Memorial Day, whether it was Saturday at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Corydon, where Old Capitol VFW Post 2950 conducted its annual Memorial Day service, or Monday in Elizabeth for a parade that concluded at Rose Hill Cemetery with a program.
At Cedar Hill, Granville (Granny) Herthel welcomed those gathered, followed by the singing of the national anthem and an invocation by William Rainey of Byrneville.
"Many have left country farms and small towns when called up ... many were lucky to have come home," Rainey said. "We're here today to honor those that didn't."
Josh Welch read the names of each Harrison County serviceman that did not make it home from their respective wars.
Granville (Granny) Herthel speaks Saturday morning at the annual Corydon VFW Post 2950 Memorial Day ceremony. Photo by Ross Schulz
Herthel then expressed the importance of Memorial Day.
"Sacrifice is meaningless without remembrance," he said. "Consciousness demands that all citizens be aware of and recall on special occasions the deaths of their fellow countrymen during war time. Far too often, the nation as a whole takes for granted the freedoms all Americans enjoy. Those freedoms were paid for with the lives of others few of us actually knew. That's why they are all collectively remembered on one special day. This should be regarded as a civic obligation. For this is a national debt that can only be truly repaid by individual Americans. By honoring the nation's war dead, we preserve their memory and thus their service and sacrifice."
He said the movement to a three-day weekend instead of recognizing Memorial Day each May 30 has no doubt contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day.
"Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day," he said.
Herthel reiterated that all war deaths should be remembered, not just the ones from the major wars.
"No American death is too insignificant to remember when that life is lost at the behest of society," he said. "GI's do not choose where they serve or what foreign policy they must enforce."
To conclude, Herthel quoted former president and general James A. Garfield who spoke at the first national memorial observance in 1868.
"They summed up and perfected, by one supreme act, the highest virtues of men and citizens. For love of country, they accepted death and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and virtue."
The VFW hosted a lunch following the ceremony.
Shady spots in downtown Elizabeth were the place to be Monday for the parade, emceed by Bob Walsh, and Memorial Day tribute, with the Rev. Richard (Dick) Goodwin presiding.
During an opening prayer, Goodwin thanked God for those who had served and continue to serve in the military and for those men and women who were willing and who are willing to give their lives to keep America free.
Susie Eastridge led everyone in reciting the pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem, then Lee Cable of Elizabeth spoke about three of the area's own heroes: Arville Wiseman, Joe Kingsley and Jesse Paschal.
"These stories make us aware, help us understand what they had to go through and make us proud to even know these men and have them as neighbors," Cable said.
World War II was underway when Wiseman was sent to Camp Robinson, Ark., for basic training. He later trained at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri before being assigned to the 276th Infantry of the 70th Division. His company was called the "Trailblazers," and Wiseman was a machine gunner.
Wiseman was taken to the front lines, where his group joined the Battle of the Bulge.
At one point, Wiseman was with four other soldiers, including a lieutenant, when an incoming bomb came in close. The blast tore the machine gun out of his hands and he never saw it again. Wiseman was wounded in the leg and the other four soldiers were down and he thought they were all dead. One, the lieutenant, was still alive.
Germans kept them pinned down for several hours until help arrived. Wiseman was taken to a hospital. The boot and sock on his right leg were embedded into the wound and everything was frozen together due to the deep snow and below-zero temperatures.
However, doctors were able to save his leg and, several weeks later, Wiseman left the hospital and went to another company. He found out that his old company was nearby, so he went AWOL and rejoined them. He received a scolding from a captain but was allowed to stay.
Following close on the heels of World War II was the Korean War.
Kingsley, who grew up near Laconia, was drafted into the Army in August 1952. He was at Fort Knox, Ky., for eight weeks for basic training then spent four weeks training as a tank driver. He was in Korea 16 days later.
Kingsley was a part of the 69th Ammo Company, assigned to a tank and ordered to guard the stockpiles of ammunition the troops needed for the battle taking place at nearby Papasan Ridge.
During that time, American spotter planes would fly over the area and drop flares to light up enemy positions. Those planes were followed by others that would use the light to drop bombs. At one point, the spotter planes confused a company of American troops for enemy soldiers and bombs were dropped, killing 269 U.S. soldiers.
"I was one of the lucky ones," Kingsley told Cable. "I had 11 inches of steel protecting me in my tank. I never got a scratch the whole time I was there. But a lot of our boys died, and a lot suffered horrible wounds. A few people refused to call it a war, labeling it as a conflict instead. But 54,246 American soldiers were killed there, and 103,284 were wounded. There are still 8,177 soldiers missing in action in Korea. I'd call that a war. Wouldn't you?"
The next battleground for American soldiers was in Vietnam.
Paschal was drafted into the Army in 1965. After training at Fort Knox, he went to radio school and learned International Morse Code and other communications procedures. He signed up for airborne training and was sent to Fort Benning, Ga., before being assigned to the 502 Strike Force and sent to Vietnam in 1966.
The radios used by the Army were short-ranged and, when troops were too far away for radio contact, a relay team would be sent out halfway to relay information back to headquarters. Paschal and two other soldiers would stay out for weeks, living in a small, concealed tent, where they received and transmitted vital information about the enemy.
It was during one of those assignments that Paschal killed his first enemy soldier. Hearing a noise not too far from their tent one night, he saw the outline of a person. He shouted for the person to identify himself. Instead of an answer, the person shot at Paschal and he returned fire.
"Some of all that stays with you," Paschal said. "Some were trying their best to kill me, and I killed them. But I was lucky. I was never hit. There were some close calls, and I received some shrapnel, but I made it out in one piece.
"As bad as it was," Fink told Cable, " If Uncle Sam called today, I'd have to go."
After Cable's presentation, Michelle Kingsley, postmaster at Elizabeth, gave each of the honorees a framed print of Purple Heart stamps.
Goodwin had all past and present servicemen and women come forward to be recognized. Then he asked for all police officers, firefighters, emergency service workers and dispatchers to join them. Members of the American Legion Post 379 had a 21-gun salute, and there was a playing of "Taps" as the ceremony came to a close.