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Tributes flow freely in Elizabeth

Tributes flow freely in Elizabeth
Tributes flow freely in Elizabeth
Veterans, police, firefighters and EMTs were all honored at the annual Memorial Day program Monday in Elizabeth. (Photo by Randy West)

The military service record of the Bartley family of Laconia, the sacrifices made by veterans from all branches of the armed forces and the efforts of police, firefighters and EMTS since 9/11 were all honored on Memorial Day in Elizabeth with a patriotic parade through town and a moving service at Rose Hill Cemetery.
Program organizer and emcee Richard Goodwin said it was the biggest Memorial Day parade in Elizabeth and biggest crowd for the ‘Remembrance Day’ program at Rose Hill Cemetery in the 15 years he has been involved and perhaps in the 59-year history of American Legion Hornickel Post 329.
Lee Cable recounted the World War II service record of the Bartley family, some of whom were present. The nine children of George and Sarah May Bartley grew up ‘dirt poor’ during the Great Depression in a one-room schoolhouse near Laconia, but they managed to give a lot, said Cable, who tells a story of military sacrifice or heroism each Memorial Day in Elizabeth.
June Bartley was drafted into the U.S. Army in late 1942 and was trained with the 94th Chemical Mortar Batallion, learning all about mortars and bombs, including smoke bombs, chemical bombs with white phosphorus and a TNT bomb.
‘Junie’ was sent to France and his unit joined the fighting in Belgium and Germany. Cable said they were repulsed by the stink of decaying bodies in Nuremberg. The unit did not know if the bodies were Germans or Jews, Cable said. Fighting the retreating Germans, Bartley’s unit came upon a concentration camp of Czech soldiers, most of whom were in their 20s but looked 20 years older. Junie Bartley made it home ‘without a scratch,’ Cable said, and now lives in Sellersburg.
John Bartley was drafted into the Army in late 1943 but joined the Coast Guard instead. After a 55-day boat ride in the Pacific, he arrived at some islands near the Philippines, which were occupied by the Japanese. It was the scene of brutal and bloody fighting. John eventually was sent to Palau island (where the TV show ‘Survivor’ was filmed, Cable noted), and spent a year on the island called Palauanna after the Japanese had left it without young men and women. John was discharged in June of 1946.
Bud Wolfe, Elizabeth Bartley’s husband, joined the Seabees in the fall of 1943. He was one of the lucky ones, assigned to a construction unit that built bridges and Quontset huts for soldiers in England, built roads for advancing U.S. soldiers following the Normandy Invasion in France, before going back to Great Britain. After 1-1/2 years overseas, Bud, too, came home ‘without a scratch.’
Edward Goughten married Lois Bartley in 1935. Five years later, they had a daughter, Sherry, but three years after that, in 1943, when the war was perhaps at its worst point, Edward was drafted into the Army. He was 33.
In almost no time, he was fighting on the front lines in Okinawa. The fighting was unusually fierce, and Goughten knew Allied prisoners could be tortured. Edward vowed in a prophetic letter home that he would never be taken prisoner.
On Easter Sunday in 1945, Cable said, Lois was having dinner with her family when they heard a news bulletin on the radio in the kitchen. The Tenth Army in Okinawa had been cut off by Japanese forces, and it looked grim. Lois’s husband was in the Tenth Army.
Edward died there, shot in the back while trying to escape from his foxhole. He was buried in Okinawa and later reinterred at National Cemetery in New Albany.
A few years after the war ended, the youngest Bartley brother, Bill, joined the National Guard. He was discharged in 1951. He joined the U.S. Air Force and re-enlisted twice more. He was with a military intelligence unit and told Cable by letter that he cannot talk about his work.
The Rev. Greg Carter of Laconia spoke for the Bartley family. (His mother, Bonnie, was the youngest of the nine Bartley children.) Carter said he visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland last winter when it was quite cold, and he just couldn’t imagine the hardships the enemies of Nazi Germany endured there. He said, ‘Freedom is bought with a tremendous cost.’
He thanked everyone for being there and introduced his Aunt Lois Schneider, Aunt Elizabeth Wolfe, and Uncle John and his son, Mike (a 1965 South Central High School grad who was drafted by the Army and worked on missile systems for four years in Germany). All live in New Albany.
Carter said all nine children were alive until last April when Aunt Laverne Farish died at age 93. They were all ‘resilient and tough,’ he said.
Suzie Eastridge sang The National Anthem and ‘God Bless America’ and led the crowd on the cemetery hillside (estimated by Goodwin at about 450 or more) in The Pledge of Allegiance. The Volunteers (Nick Melton, Steve Crosby and Bill Mauck) sang a medley of military hymns, and Elizabeth Postmaster Shelley Kingsley presented Bartley family members with framed World War II commemorative stamps.
Goodwin said the American Flag would be left unfolded in honor of his freind, Joey Arnold, who died recently at age 54. Arnold was past commander of the Hornickle Post and an active member. He helped plan the program and helped Goodwin fold the flag each year.
Phillip Bailey of Charlestown played ‘Taps.’
Parade highlights
Former South Central Junior-Senior High School teacher and coach Bob Walsh was parade emcee again this year. Instead of describing each unit according to information on a clipboard, he did a quick interview as each unit came by. He started off by introducing two spectators, special guests of Tom and Barbara Fitzgerald. Keiko Suematsu, 47, of Sanda, Japan, and her daughter, Ruriko Suematsu, 17, an exchange student at South Central. Ruriko and Judita Ontkora, 18, of Slovakia, are the Fitzgeralds’ 27th and 28th exchange students. Keiko was given a bouquet of flowers.
The parade ‘ ‘truly small town America,’ Fitzgerald observed ‘ featured the usual elements: Color guard, Scout troop, siren-blaring fire trucks, street rods, tractors, dune buggies, and classic and unusual vehicles. Sheriff Mike Deatrick’s Harrison County Mounted Horse Patrol was along with a candidate or two. This year there were also T-League baseball teams on a flat farm wagon, a small, rough version of an Indy race car hauled on a pickup by Jim Klinstiver, and a 1896 Ford ‘quadracycle.’ Doug Miller drove a small Budweiser NASCAR car; his daughter, Shelby, 12, was on a little motorcycle, and his daughter, Kelsey, 9, and Brad and Anita Schoen’s son, Chase, 4, drove a little red Mustang. Bill Miller drove his tiny red mini-car, a 1959 Vespa.
An elderly woman on her way with friends in a conventional four-door sedan to Laconia joined the parade by mistake. Walsh kindly gave her the directions, and she exited the parade at the four-way stop.
State Rep. Paul Robertson, D-Depauw, had some good news for the crowd. He said he was ‘working to keep casino money in Harrison County.’