JoCo Honors Vets

The Johnson County Veterans Day observance carried on its traditional recognition of local veterans on Thursday, Nov. 11, beginning at 11 a.m. For the second year, the ceremony was available online only to reduce/contain the spread of the coronavirus. 

While this event honored all veterans, this year, there was a special recognition of veterans from Desert Storm and the War on Terror. 

The Veterans Day celebration featured pre-recorded videos and speeches honoring veterans, including a glimpse of the “Spartans” unit at New Century AirCenter, patriotic songs, wreath presentations by local veteran organizations, the playing of “Taps” and a rifle salute. 

Chairman Ed Eilert served as the in-person emcee for the program. Megan Duncan, mother of Spencer Duncan, an Olathe South High School graduate who was one of 38 people killed aboard a Chinook in Afghanistan, shared her story of how her and her family turned the tragedy into an opportunity to help local veterans.

The county’s annual celebration, dating back to 1987, has traditionally taken place on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month. The 2021 observance was live streamed here on this page, jocogov.org/JoCoHonorsVets, and on Facebook Live.

2021 Program:

  • Welcome - Chairman Ed Eilert
  • Invocation - Chaplain Dennis Baker from the Olathe American Legion Post 153
  • Star-Spangled Banner – Swing Shift Barbershop Quartet
  • Pledge of Allegiance Bravo Company “Spartans” - Chief Warrant Officer Richard “Tank” Sherman
  • American Gold Star Mother - Megan Duncan
  • Renaming the hangar at the AirCenter - Captain Mason McCoy
  • Armed Forces Melody – Swing Shift Barbershop Quartet
  • Veterans Treatment Court - Chairman Ed Eilert
  • Mental health of veterans – Tim DeWeese, Director of Johnson County Mental Health Center
  • Wreath presentation - Local veteran organizations
  • Rifle salute and taps - Gardner American Legion Leroy Hill Post 19
  • Benediction - Chaplain Dennis Baker from the Olathe American Legion Post 153
  • Final Comments - Chairman Ed Eilert
  • God Bless America – Swing Shift Barbershop Quartet

2020 Event

 

Veterans Salutes

Benjamin A. Nicks Jr.

Veteran Benjamin A. Nicks Jr.

Age: 101

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: Army Air Corps

Rank: Captain

Job duty: B-29 pilot

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Flying my “Last Mission No. 45”  on Aug. 6, 1945. After 45 missions, you can rotate back to the U.S. 

While returning to Tinian Island when news came over the radio that “A Big War Ending Bomb” had been unleashed. Landed next to the Enola Gay at Tinian that day.

Remained friends with Paul Tibbetts (pilot of the Enola Gay) way after the war until the general's passing.

Bill Casassa

Veteran Bill Casassa

Age: 95

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job: Anti-tank gunner with the 84th Infantry Division, 638th Tank Destroyer Battalion, 2nd Platoon, A company

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Was in the Battle of the Bulge; fought through Germany – across the Rhine and Elb Rivers; took Hannover Germany and discovered concentration camps; after V-E Day was told unit would be training for Japan invasion.

Bill Guilfoil

Veteran Bill Guilfoil

Age: 97

Residence: Fairway

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Infantryman with the 94th Infantry Division

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Participated in military action in France, Germany, Belgium and Holland. In Germany, Gen. Patton planned to send him in a second wave across a river. He couldn’t swim. Fortunately, he was sent to Belgium instead.

Billy Garton

Veteran Billy Garton

Age: 94

Residence: Olathe

Branch: Army Air Forces

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Airplane and engine specialist

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: The joy and celebration of V-J Day in Seattle where I was stationed at the B-29 Factory School.

Bo Bohannon

Veteran Bo Bohannon

Age: 95

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Job duty: Technician 5th grade, Heavy truck driver

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: On orders to Pacific when war ended. Sent to D.C. to drive staff cars for general officers. Enjoyed memorable visits with them.

Bob DesMarteau

Veteran Bob DesMarteau

Age: 96

Branch: Navy        

Rank: Seaman 1st class

Job duty: Radar and Sonar Technician

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Because sonar was so new and secret, we were guarded by Marines while training.

Bob Montgomery

Veteran Bob Montgomery

Age: 93

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Infantry

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Took ship through typhoon’s edge to Japan in early fall of 1945. Took troop trucks through Nagasaki, Japan, witnessing devastation of atomic bomb and respect from local residents.

Bob South

Veteran Bob South

Age: 96

Residence: Olathe

Branch: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant commander 

Job duty: DC-4 pilot

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Enlisted '42; attended Wentworth Military Academy '43; went to California for Navy pre-flight, Hutchison, Kansas for basic pre-flight, Pensacola, Florida for flight training, Fort Worth, Texas, for  DC-3 training (American Airlines School) and briefly assigned to Naval Air Transport Services at the Olathe Naval Air Station; ordered to Pacific Theater and involved in many battle islands, ferrying wounded, materials, etc.

Bud Hinkle

Veteran Bud Hinkle

Age: 98

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Medic

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Took Queen Mary with 20,000 others to Scotland. Followed infantry from D-Day through Europe. Earned three Bronze Stars for Rhineland, Central Europe and France campaigns. Was in Frankfurt at war’s end.

Chuck Wittig

Veteran Chuck Wittig

Age: 97

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: Army

Rank: Staff sergeant

Job duty: Infantry/squad leader

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Enlisted in '41 after Pearl Harbor (active duty in '42); basic at Camp Roberts, California; training and division assignment at  Camp McCoy, Wisconsin; sent to Europe ’44  and fought in  Battle of the Bulge; wounded by mortar in '45, seven months after arrival, treated in England hospital

Korea: Active reserve after WWII, called up for Korea; basic at Fort Louis, Washington; shot by sniper in Korea (13 months recuperation/nine operations); two Purple Hearts and Silver Star

Darrell Rupp

Veteran Darrell Rupp

Age: 95

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Navy

Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)

Job duty: Surface warfare officer; escort aircraft carrier

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Was about to sail to Japan, when V-J Day happened. Witnessed amazing, raucous celebration in San Francisco. Made voyages to and from Guam and Tokyo, ferrying troops home.

Donald D. Moore

Veteran Donald Moore

Age: 93

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Job duty: Technician 5th grade, Battalion clerk for 7th Division 17th Regiment

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Finishing basic training at Fort Bragg. As he marched in front of the viewing stand, he thought, “Today I am a man.”

Ed Waters

Veteran Ed Waters

Age: 92

Residence: Olathe

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Clerk

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: I vividly remember being out on a Sunday drive with my parents and hearing on the radio that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Nothing was the same after that.

Elmer John Papp

Veteran Elmer John Papp

Age: 95

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: Navy

Rank: First class radarman

Job duty: Radar and radio specialist

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Joined the Navy in 1942 and served the entire war in the Pacific aboard the USS Independence and the USS Halfmoon. His proudest war moments were rescuing downed Air Force pilots using PBY seaplanes. Honorably discharged, he returned home to Pennsylvania to finish high school and marry his sweetheart (Dea). They were married 65 years.

Emery Hinkhouse

Veteran Emery Hinkhouse

Age: 102

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Merchant Marines

Rank: Seaman

Job duty: Steward Department

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Joined in '43. Boot camp at Sheapshead Bay, NY. Served on ship Joseph J. Kinyon in South Pacific – Saipan, Tinian, ferrying various supplies to islands. Caught in Okinawa Typhoon of '45.

Fred A. Henik

Veteran Fred A. Henik

Age: 95

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: Army

Rank: Private first class

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Drafted in 1945. Trained at Camp Maxey, Texas. Served at Schofield Barracks. Drove trucks and wreckers. Hauled PX workers to and from work while stationed in Hawaii. Was to go to Japan but President Truman dropped the atomic bomb.

Frederick O. De Sieghardt

Veteran Frederick O. De Sieghardt

Age: 95

Residence: Lenexa

Branch: Army

Rank: Master Sgt.

Job duty: Military Govt. (G-5) Administration

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: VE Day, May 8, 1945. A beautiful day, a feeling of great relief that reached into one's very soul!

George H. Defebaugh

Veteran George H. Defebaugh

Residence: Merriam

Branch: Army

Rank: from PFC to T-5 (Tech 5th)

Job duty: Infantry for 1 year and then supplies distribution in Philippines

Experience: A buddy’s wound was a ricocheting bullet lodging just under the skin in his temple area. He was happy to be alive and eventually made it home after the war.

George Kimball

Veteran George Kimball

Age: 94

Branch: Army

Rank: Sgt.

Job duty: Military Police; became ordained and served as Air Force Chaplain

Years of service: 1944-65

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: On duty when train carrying FDR’s casket stopped at his station. Eleanor came out and spoke to the guards on duty. George retired as LTC,  Air Force Chaplain.

George Steven Sakoulas

Veteran George Steven Sakoulas

Age: 97

Residence: Overland Park

Rank: Infantry, 86th Division

Job duty: Interpreter

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: 3 1/2 years military service. Fluent in five languages, George Sakoulas served as an interpreter during WWII, primarily in P.O.W. camps.  

Gilbert W. Dieckhoff

Veteran Gilbert W. Dieckhoff

Age: 100

Residence: Olathe

Branch: Navy

Rank: First Class Petty Officer

Job duty: Repairing and flying aircraft, mainly PBY’s, also Search and Rescue

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Gilbert served in the South Pacific at New Caledonia. Gilbert was one of General Halsey’s escorts from land to ship on three different occasions. The general did not wear his uniform because he did not want to be recognized by the enemy.

Glenn Woodmancy

Veteran Glenn Woodmancy

Age: 97

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Air Force

Rank: First Lieutenant

Job duty: Pilot for photo mapping squadron based in the South Pacific

Years of service: 6

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Piloting a plane that took a photo of a ship belonging to Borneo on which the Japanese were surrendering to Australia.

Harold T. Jackson

Veteran Harold T. Jackson

Age: 94

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Field Artillery

Years of Service: 2 years Army (44-46 Germany), 2 years Air Force reserves (51-52)

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: 2 years Army (44-46 Germany), 2 years Air Force reserves (51-52). Volunteered at 18 to serve in WWII. Spent Christmas 1944 at sea being transported from Boston to Scotland. Crossed the English Channel on New Year’s Eve 1944 and docked on beach of France New Year’s Day, 1945.

Harry Monroe Taliaferro

Veteran Harry Monroe Taliaferro

Age: 97

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: Army 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division

Rank: Corporal

Duty: Instrument corporal

Memory: Place myself about 20 yards in front of three 155 mm howitzer cannons, face them and with my instruments align the cannons to fire on and destroy predesignated enemy targets. At each of the several locations, I was in the open, unarmed, carrying only my instruments, exposed to enemy fire, risking my life without hesitation. Awarded Bronze Star.

Herbert W. Stevens

Veteran Herbert W. Stevens

Age: 104

Residence: Leawood

Branch: U.S. Army, 594th Engineer Boat & Shore Regiment

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Job duty: Amphibian Engineer. Worked on amphibious ship. Landed troops and delivered supplies and equipment.

Years of Military Service: 3 years

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Served in the South Pacific. Received a Philippine Liberation Ribbon with 1 Star and a Good Conduct Medal.

Howard Gregg Wolf

Veteran Howard Gregg Wolf

Age: 95

Residence: Olathe

Rank: First Class

Job duty: Machinist Mate, Main engine control

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: My most memorable experience was just after the War. Our ship was outfitted with bunks and sent back to bring home the troops. The day we returned, it was Christmas morning and the captain came over the load-speaker and announced that we were pulling into New York harbor. As we came up on deck on this Christmas morning, the first thing we saw was the Statue of Liberty, and there was not a dry eye on deck.

Jack Forman

Veteran Jack Forman

Age: 95

Branch: Army

Rank: CPL T5

Job duty: Rifleman

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Joined 51st Armored Infantry, 4th Armored Division in January 1945. Earned three combat stars moving across Europe under Patton. Was in Czechoslovakia at war’s end.

James D. Blackwell

Veteran James Blackwell

Age: 95

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: Army, 397th Infantry Regiment, 100th Division

Rank: PFC

Position: Field lineman

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Purple Heart and Bronze Star, After serving several months in the cold of Germany, regiment received new, warm winter coats. All the guys were ecstatic as their uniforms and coats were torn and filthy and not as warm after being wet so many times. After putting his new coat on, promptly had to crawl under barbed wire to lay some line. Coat got caught on the wire and ripped. With no warning, tears came to my eyes and had to stop just long enough to have a short cry. Couldn’t help myself. Was so upset for tearing the new coat.

Jerry Ingram

Veteran Jerry Ingram

Age: Enlisted at age 15, '42

Branch: Marines

Job duties: Boot camp in San Diego / Jacques Farm Camp
Assigned to tanks, 4th Tank Division, 4th Marine Division
Tank driving instructor
Tank commander in battle at Roi Namur (Kwajalein), age 16
Tank commander at Saipan, Tinian, age 16
Tank commander at Iwo Jima, age 17
Tank platoon sergeant in North China

John (Jack, Gramps) Folse

Veteran John Folse

Age: 94

Residence: Overland Park

Rank: Started as Pvt ended up as Cpl. in Army and also served in Merchant Marine.

Job duty: Trained as computer repairman. Computers in 1945??? Went over to Japan but computer repair specialists at that location, Machine Records Unit 69, were many in number, many there and none needed. So they made the six of us new arrivals normal regular clerks with an MOS of 521. One and a half years in Merchant Marine making trips to Europe in 1944, 45. Two years in Army over in Tokyo at the end of the war over there.

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: None. Everything that happened to me in Japan was normal. I thought. Young punk straight out of high school and knew nothing about people. So I merely accepted everything as normal. No big deal.

John C. Kimpel

Veteran John C. Kimpel

Residence: Shawnee

Age: 96

Branch: Army

Rank: Private

Job duty: Rifleman

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: He was with the 44th Armored Infantry Brigade. He enlisted in August 1944, arriving in England in January 1945. After crossing the English Channel into France, his unit traveled to Germany (mostly walking). On March 3, 1945, he was struck by German shelling. He spent the remainder of his service in military hospitals Birmingham, England; Modesto, California; and Camp Carson, Colorado, with shrapnel wounds to his legs, feet, wrist and arm. The most recent piece of shrapnel was removed when he had a right knee replacement on Jan. 7, 2008. He received a Purple Heart, WWII Victory Ribbon, EAME (Europe, Africa, Middle East) Ribbon and Bronze Star. He received his medical discharge Dec. 14, 1945. He was a longtime resident of Overland Park and is currently living in Shawnee.

John David Dunn

Veteran John David Dunn

Age: 94

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Navy

Rank: Boatswains Mate 3rd Class

Job duty: Pointer Trainer 5” 38 cannon on the USS Thetis Bay CVE Jeep Carrier Vessel Escort. Ran the Captain’s boat from ship to shore.

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:
Plank owner when ship was commissioned.
Ferrying planes – South Pacific, New Guinea to Tokyo.
Enjoyed giving candy to children on Tokyo’s main street (Ginza).
Participated in the Honor Flight for WWII vet to Washington, D.C.
 

John Martin

Veteran John Martin

Age: 97

Residence: Olathe

Rank: Technical sergeant

Duty: Infantry rifleman

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Survived Battle of the Bulge and was awarded the Bronze Star for courage, leadership and heroic achievement. I wouldn’t change the combat experience for anything, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

John Patrick "Pat" O'Reagan

Veteran John Patrick "Pat" O'Reagan

Age: 99

Residence: Olathe

Rank: Colonel 

Branch: U.S. Army Air Corps (WWII) Air Force after war (1947 when Air Force was created)

Job duty: Fighter Pilot 

Years of Military Service: 31

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Flying a P51 missing 1/3rd of its wing back to base to land on a runway with a live bomb resting on it 

John Roberts

Veteran John Roberts

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank: Infantryman, PFC

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:

Drafted '43
Ft. Meade Oregon
Volunteered for 101st airborne after arriving in England
Jumped at Market Garden
Battle of the Bulge – Bastogne
Hospitalized with frozen feet
Rejoined out fit in Salzburg, Austria
Guard at Dachau
Trained for Japan before Japanese surrender

John Sheriff

Veteran John Sheriff

Age: 93

Residence: Overland Park, KS

Branch/Rank: First Army, PFC

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Guarded German and Italian POWs and returned Italian POWs to Italy to freedom. In the service 1-1/2 years of teenage years. Seeing Italy after returning POWs. Glad to have served my country.

John White

Veteran John White

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: Army

Rank: Tech Sergeant

Kenneth Tebow

Veteran Kenneth Tebow

Age: 100

Residence: Westwood

Branch: 106th Infantry Division U.S. Army

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Specialty: Musician

Years of service: 7

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Battle of the Bulge in Europe. Half of Division lost to KIA, MIA, POW. Fortunate to return safely.

Laurie R. Russell

Veteran Laurie R. Russell

Age: 99

Residence: Prairie Village

Rank and job duty: Lt. (j.g), Gunnery Officer

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: He served in the Navy from 1943-1946. He was assigned to the USS LSM (R) 191, a rocket bombardment ship, participated in the Okinawa Campaign of April 1945 and endured kamikaze attacks.

Leo Chance

Veteran Leo Chance

Age: 94

Residence: Overland Park 

Branch: Army, 1945-45 & 1967-86

Rank: PVT in WWII; LTC in Vietnam

Job duty: MP during WWII; Chaplain during Vietnam

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Learned positive capabilities, which helped with his decision to complete divinity training and serve as an Army chaplain in Vietnam

Leroy W. Wisner

Veteran Leroy W. Wisner

Age: 95

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: Marine Corps

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Airplane mechanic

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: He enlisted in September 1943 and was with the Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron No. 242. On March 24, 1945, he was stationed on Tinian (Mariana Islands). On May 24,1945, he transferred to Iwo Jima, then back to Tinian Island on June 23,1945. The Enola Gay departed from Tinian to drop the bomb on Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945. On Nov. 1, 1945, he was transferred to Guam. On March 16, 1946, he was headed toward home via USS Wakefield. He was a long time resident of Merriam and is currently living, with his wife in Shawnee.

Lloyd Mitterling

Veteran Lloyd Mitterling

Age: 95

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Rank: Tech Sergeant

Job duty: Signal Corps; led division 35 man commo team for radio/teletype/code

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Was in parade in Hawaii for FDR in 1944.  Was in 1945 landings and complete campaigns at both Leyte and Okinawa. Witnessed a kamikaze sinking of an American ship.

Mabel Evensen Johnson

Veteran Mabel Evensen Johnson

Age: 105

Residence: Olathe

Branch: Coast Guard

Rank: Storekeeper Second Class

Job duty: Payroll and Accounting for Great Lakes Coast Guard District #9 in Cleveland, Ohio

Years of service: August 1943 - April 1946, 2 1/2 years

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: May 8, 1945 - VE Day.  From our 16th floor windows we added to the avalanche of papers being thrown onto Euclid Avenue while the city's bells, whistles and horns were blowing!

Martin Murphy

Veteran Martin Murphy

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: U.S. Marines

Job duty: 5th Division tank battalion / Loader

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Enlisted '43; Basic in San Diego; Iwo Jima (5 different tanks during battle); In first tank to successfully make it off the beach during the battle; Sent to Japan

Marvin Snyder

Veteran Marvin Snyder

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: U.S. Army

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:

Drafted '44
Basic at Camp Roberts CA
Europe in Fall of '44
Ri fleman and Bazookaman
Trucked from France into Belgium to relieve the 9th Division at the Siegfried Line
Battle of the Bulge
Captured by Germans
POW at Stalag 13C
Marched out of camp to the hills as Americans moved in (86th Armored Division)
Camp Lucky Strike
BRONZE STAR

Max Deweese

Veteran Max Deweese

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Marines

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:

Basic in San Diego
Guadalcanal (1st troops) – stranded, lost 30 pounds by end
Tarawa
Transferred to combat engineers – flamethrower
Saipan
Tinian
Quantico OCS instructor
Two Purple Hearts

Melvin Bockelman

Veteran Melvin Bockelman

Age: 92

Residence: Lenexa

Branch: Merchant Marines

Rank: Seaman 2nd Class

Job duty: Helmsman (steers the ship)

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Years of Military Service: 14 months (3 tours in the Pacific) during WWII.  After high school graduation, an additional 20 years in the Army Air Corp, then Air Force. WWII Memory or Experience: In 1944, at the age of 16, I joined the Merchant Marines. In 1945, I witnessed Kamikaze attacks on the U.S. Naval Fleet at Okinawa.

Meyer Katzman

Veteran Meyer Katzman

Age: 100

Residence: Leawood

Branch: Army Air Corps

Job duty: Specialist

Years of service: Three years 

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Saved 27 people on a B24 delivery. Explaining saving of lives: As they were taking off for a mission he noticed the gas cap had come off one of the wings and gas was spilling from the plane. Had to run tell the pilot and get all the men strapped in because they had to make an emergency landing.

Milton (Milt) R. Peine

Veteran Milton (Milt) R. Peine

Age: 98

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: United States Army Air Corps

Rank: Staff Sergeant

Job duty: 819th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron; Medical Technician that gave emergency treatment and prepped the wounded for air evacuation from war zone.

Years of service: Three

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Milt is one of two remaining members of his squadron. He received the Air Medal for service beginning with the Normandy invasion through VE Day.

Norm Williams

Veteran Norm Williams

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: U.S. Navy

Years of service:

Enlisted '44
Basic at Fargon Idaho & quartermaster school
USS Relief
Ferried wounded from battle of Okinawa to Guam
After Japanese surrender, retrieved POW's at Tinsin, China

Phil Walsh

Veteran Phil Walsh

Age: 93

Residence: Olathe

Branch: Navy

Job duty: Was a midshipman during WW2 at the Naval Academy. Seven years of military service.

Raul A. Alvarado

Veteran Raul Alvarado

Age: 97

Residence: Merriam

Branch: Army

Rank: PFC

Job duty: Airborne Infantry (gliders)

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Drafted in 43. Was in Battle of Bulge/Ardennes, Purple Heart, Disable Veteran

Richard K. Rieder

Veteran Richard K. Rieder

Age: 93

Residence: Gardner

Branch: Navy

Rank: Seaman First Class

Job duty: Was on a minesweeper sweeping the Pacific for mines

Years of military service: 2 years

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Served on the USS Elusive. Left Pearl Harbor on September 1, 1945, and the war ended on September 2, 1945. Went to Japan and Guam.

Rinaldo (Ray) Geldhof

Veteran Rinaldo (Ray) Geldhof

Age: 97

Residence: Spring Hill

Branch: Army

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Communications from the Field Infantry to Field Artillery

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Served in the 3rd Army under General Patton

Robert (Bob) Douglas

Veteran Robert (Bob) Douglas

Residence: Mission

Branch: Army

Job duty: Cryptographic technician using the Sigaba encoder

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Enlisted in Reserve Corps while in college '42 and called into service two months later. Stationed at Jefferson Barracks, Casa Blanca, and Corsica and Florence, Italy.

Robert (Bob) Gaughan

Veteran Robert (Bob) Gaughan

Age: 98

Residence: Leawood

Branch: Army Air Corp 

Rank: Sergeant

Job duty: Crew chief

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Flew 12 combat missions from England into Europe, transporting troops, equipment and supplies. He was in the service for two years. When the war broke out, he was an airplane mechanic for TWA, but was not allowed to enlist because he was needed to work on planes that had been converted to military use. He had to return to Kansas hometown to get around the red tape, enlisted and was based in Ramsbury, England.

He was a part of the Bastogne airdrop, which he remembers as being absolutely beautiful. The parachutes were color coded, indicating what was in the package underneath, so the sky was full of multi-colored balloons. He also participated in the Market Garden Mission in the Netherlands, among others.

He remembers bringing back a plane full of Frenchmen after the war ended who had been POWs for six years. They were so thin and smelled horrible. One soldier gave him a religious medal to thank him. He and his crew took the soldiers to Le Bourget Airport where they were greeted by a band and high government officials to honor the former POWs. This is the airport where Lindbergh ended his nonstop flight across the Atlantic in 1927.

He won three Air Medals during his time in the service in World War II.

He returned to TWA after the war and became a pilot for the airline.

Robert (Bob) Dalton

Veteran Robert (Bob) Dalton

Age: 94

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Rank: Private First Class

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Served in northern France and Germany for two years as a code clerk and an MP on the railroad tracks.

Lived in the home of a Nazi, whose wife was part of the Polish underground during the Occupation. Has good memories of living with this German family in Metz.

Also enjoyed a visit to Belgium when on leave, and a day of skiing in St. Moritz, Switzerland where his knee turned backwards in a fall.

Robert Mullett

Veteran Robert Mullett

Age: 95

Residence: Leawood

Branch: Army

Rank: Private, 1st Lieutenant

Job duty: Infantry (Rifleman)

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: 8 years service (2 years active, 6 reserve) "Fuzzy faced 18 year old packing a rifle in France - 36 division" 

Robert Sperry

Veteran Robert Sperry

Age: 95

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Army

Rank: Corporal

Duty: Company clerk

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Christmas Eve 1944. Great aroma coming from preparation of Christmas dinner while crossing the English Channel. After landing, Christmas dinner was C rations.

Ronald A. "Ron" Abel

Veteran Ron Abel

Age: 94

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: Navy

Job duty: Radioman 3/c

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: Sept. 1945 in Tokyo Bay, assigned to destroyer USS Hank (DD702). Served as communication ship in southern islands of Japan to assist in getting Japanese troops home. Returned to USA fall of 1945.

Sally Keithley McCulley

Veteran Sally Keithley McCulley

Age: 95

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: British Army’s Royal Signal Corps

Rank: Private First Class

Duty: Wireless operator/Hollorith operator

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: At age 16 ½, I talked my parents into signing paper (to enter military service). My mother was not happy, but my father, a WWI soldier, was proud of me. A person had to be 17 ½, so I lied about my age. I loved my time in the army, learned a trade, felt patriotic and did my duty to king and country.

While stationed in Edinburgh, Scotland, I met Marion Curtis Keithley, an American from Sedalia, Missouri, in 1943. He was attached to the Royal Air Navy. We were married the following year. In 1945, Marion returned home after 4 ½ years, and I was a British war bride. We were married 41 years until his death in 1985.

Sid Bordman

Veteran Sid Bordman

Age: 97

Residence: Overland Park

Branch: U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (6th US Army)

Rank: Technical Sergeant

Job duty: Maintenance and Procurement

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: My unit was located in Guadalcanal, Luzon, Philippines and ultimately Japan. I recall the joy I felt when the war ended because we were preparing for the first phase of the invasion of Japan. We were getting ready to ship out!

Vernon Richard (Dick) Davy

Veteran Vernon Richard (Dick) Davy

Age: 97

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: Navy

Rank: Chief Petty Officer

Job duty: Shipboard electrician, LCT landing craft operator/50 caliber machine gunner 

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:

Drafted in '43; Great Lakes NAS,  boot camp electrical training / LCT training MD; LCT landing craft radio operator, 50 cal guns; participated in actions at Philippines, Leyte, Okinawa, Japan.

I was 10 miles off Japan when they dropped the A-bomb. I thank God and Harry Truman for his decision to drop it. It saved many lives mine included.

Korea: Called back to service for Korea, sailed on USS Missouri to Inchon, served aboard sea plane tender USS Curtis, ferrying atomic bombs for testing on Eniwetok Atoll.

Wayne Fick

Veteran Wayne Fick

Age: 93

Branch: Navy

Rank: Seaman

Job duty: Overseas Sea Duty Type 4

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:

Was traveling to the Pacific when the A-bombs were dropped in Japan. Was diverted to Guam and stayed there about one year before going home.

William Bowden

Veteran William Bowden

Age: 92

Residence: Prairie Village

Branch: Navy

Rank: Petty officer third class

Job duty: Maintenance of radio equipment

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: President Harry Truman visited the base (Key West, Florida) two times and the sailors stood on each side of the street as he passed by.

William Chick

Veteran William Chick

Age: 95

Branch: Army

Job duty: T-5, surface radar operator

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII:

New Guinea: elephant grass, dengue fever and rain

Philippines: participated in the invasion of Lingayen Bay on Luzon island, made it back without a scratch and got a college education to boot

William E. Taylor

Veteran William E. Taylor

Age: 94

Residence: Shawnee

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank: AMS-2C [Aviation Metal Smith – Second Class]

Job duty: Aircraft maintenance, aerial gunner, radio operator

Years of service: 8

Highlight of an experience or memory from WWII: In August 1945 as an observer and gunner on a recon strike for Japanese kamikaze planes, being hit and surviving a shattered canopy.

Nice memory: Following a ceremony on my way to my plane, I gave my white cap to a boy who shouted, “Look mommy, a real Navy fighter.”