Thursday, April 12, 2007

Local Military News: Kansas and Missouri

Missouri honored it's veterans on Tuesday, April 10th. A rally supporting the troops was held after the event to honor 50 veterans and 77 Missourians who have died since 2003.

“Supporting Troops - Past, Present and Future” echoed throughout Tuesday's events at the Missouri State Capitol.

The ninth Support Your Troops event wrapped up the day with a somber show of appreciation, including the Boone County Pipes and Drums echoing through the Capitol Rotunda, for the 77 Missouri soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terror. [snip]

A ceremony in the House Chambers presented more than 50 servicemen from all eras, military branches and components with House Resolution 768 recognizing their service.

And the Missouri Veterans Stories Project was unveiled in the Rotunda.

Past commission leadership, Patriot Guard riders, veterans of all backgrounds, state elected officials and friends and family of lost service members gathered for the various recognition events.

More on the Rally

Fifty-seven veterans, whose service stretched from World War II to the Iraq war, were individually announced and presented with a state proclamation detailing their service during a ceremony in the House chamber. Several House members, including Speaker Rod Jetton, are veterans, and two lawmakers who have served in Iraq received official recognition.

Later Tuesday, the ceremonies continued with a drill performance and an evening rally with speeches by several military and political leaders.

Bercina Garstang, who was standing with a small American flag outside the Capitol on Tuesday, said she had come, in part, to honor her son who is on his third deployment in Iraq.

Garstang said her 21-year-old son enlisted in the Marines out of high school and has been injured several times and has not been home in more than two years.

Veterans "have done so much for our country - we owe them a lot for us having our peace of mind here," she said. "We need to stand behind them."

Garstang, from Chamois, said that since her son went to war, ceremonies to thank veterans have a new meaning.[snip]

Retired Lt. Col. Les Spangler said the recognition in the morning ceremony was a long time in coming for many of the state's veterans, whose service in Korea and Vietnam has only been recognized in recent years.

"It grabs you right by the heart to think the state would stop and give recognition and appreciation," he said.

Spangler, enlisted in 1952 and graduated from officer candidate school in 1954. He served in Europe, Korea and Vietnam with the 82nd Airborne division.

He said that the current environment and controversy surrounding the Iraq war makes it especially important to thank military forces to ensure troops do not think their efforts are being ignored.

"I know what happened to me in Vietnam. When I saw that the government didn't want the war, the media wasn't all that supportive of Vietnam, it trickled down to the people, and I don't want to see that happen," Spangler said.

Wounded soldier among Tuesday's honored veterans

Robert “Weston” Schubert clutched an engagement ring in his right hand as Erica entered his room at Walter Reed Medical Center.

He held it out to slide on her ring finger.

No words needed to be spoken in that solidifying moment between the 23 year olds who have been best friends since age 9 - they couldn't have been spoken.

U.S. Army Spc. Schubert was recovering from an Iraqi sniper's fire, which went through his neck and out his mouth. But he was relieved that Erica and his family were still by his side.[snip]

On convalescence leave, Schubert was able to accept a proclamation at the Capitol on Tuesday as part of the celebration of the Missouri Veterans Commission's 75th anniversary.

Noticeably thin - he has lost 40 pounds since December - and with apparent facial injuries, Schubert's peers of the past and present gave him a round of applause as a record of his service was read aloud.

Yet, Schubert - a recipient of two Purple Hearts - noted it was the older veterans, those who were applauding him, that he admired.

“When they read that a World War II veteran was in the infantry in the German theater, that tells me he's gone through a lot,” Schubert said.

“People look at me like a hero, that's fine. But I look to them as my heroes.”

Generations of Missourians Serve

Families like the Dayringers have shared a military heritage that spans generations and branches.

Joe, Paula, their two sons, his father and his uncle all were honored Tuesday as part of the “A Grateful Nation Remembers” veterans recognition ceremony in the Missouri House Chambers.

The Dayringers were among more than 50 veterans from across the state honored as part of the 75th anniversary celebration of the Missouri Veterans Commission.

Listen to the Lessons of World War I

Ninety years ago this month, another generation of young Americans answered the call to war.

They went willingly, infused with a sense of purpose in a just cause. But they were naïve and enthusiastic and unmindful of the nature of war. Grand adventure awaited them.

The grinding horrors they experienced on the battlefields of France would soon disabuse them of those notions.

But the hard lessons learned by the generation that fought “The war to end all wars” have faded away along with the lives of those who experienced it.

Now, as another April dawns, comes news that of an army of millions mustered in 1917 and 1918 to make the world safe for democracy, only three old men remain.

Who will be left to remember what they did when the last of them passes on?

Well, we in Kansas City have that opportunity thanks to the Liberty Memorial and our National World War I Museum. It’s a chance that we should embrace.

The museum is now being considered to host a commemoration ceremony when the last of the veterans is gone. And starting later this month, the museum is helping to host a series of forums and lectures by noted historians to discuss “The Legacy of the Great War: 90 Years On.”[snip]

Although it seems so long ago, so remote from our own time, we can’t afford to forget the World War I generation.

Jay Winter, one of the participants in the Kansas City presentations, has said you can’t understand our world today without knowing that its roots are firmly planted in the Great War.

From its ashes rose the Nazi movement, the greatest evil to ever blot human history. The Russian revolution and eventually the Cold War were its progeny. And so much of the strife in the Middle East today can be traced to decisions made during the war.

It has become a cliché to say that those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it, but in so many ways that’s true.

Since 1918, humankind has proved that again and again and again

Missouri Mystery from World War II is Cleared

More than 60 years after his disappearance, Staff Sgt. Norman L. Nell finally will be memorialized.

Nell, of Tarkio, Mo., was only 21 when he disappeared in April 1944 during a World War II mission over New Guinea. He was a U.S. Army crewman on a B-24 Liberator, and his plane was altering course in bad weather and disappeared without a trace — until the wreckage was found in 2001.

Remains of the 10 crewmen had never been identified.

Until now.

The U.S. Department of Defense recently announced that remains of the 10 crew members have finally been identified.[snip]

According to the Department of Defense, Nell’s crew had just bombed enemy targets near Hollandia (now called Jayapura) and was returning to the aerodrome at Nadzab, New Guinea. Bad weather forced the aircraft to alter its course, and the crew never returned to friendly lines.

In late 2001, the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea notified the Department of Defense that wreckage of a World War II bomber had been found in Morobe province. That set in motion a chain of events that, over several years, led to this week’s formal identification.

Officials even found Nell’s high school class ring, which will be sent to Schreiner.

Man Posing as a Marine gets 2 Years Probation

A St. Louis man who posed as a Marine and wore military medals not awarded to him was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation on a federal charge.

Michael Gerald Weilbacher, 48, will also serve 120 hours of community service at a military organization and pay a $3,000 fine. He pleaded guilty Feb. 1.

Weilbacher appeared at the U.S. Marine Corps Ball on Nov. 11 wearing several medals and decorations.

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