The SunBird Personality column usually features a person or a couple, but this time there is reason to include more.
Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually to honor our military. The armistice that ended WW I was signed at 11:00 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. At that very time, SunBird residents will file into the ballroom to honor the sacrifices of our veterans.
One SunBird individual long ago took charge of our ceremony and for many years brought us spectacular and emotional Veterans Days. Bill Wiedbusch, a retired USAF first sergeant, continued to oversee this endeavor until his illness eventually led to his death August 2016. As you attend our ceremony, remember Bill and his family.
In 1919 President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day which in part said, “We are filled with solemn pride of the heroism of those who died in their country’s service and with gratitude for the victory.”
He speaks of WW I where the battlefield took the lives of 291,557 brave men.
A proposition in 1938 made November 11 a legal holiday. A bill was approved in Congress that was signed by President Dwight D Eisenhower in 1954 further identified the day to Veterans Day instead of the former Armistice Day. The purpose then was to honor the military in all our former ways.
We are told that those who served in WW II are dying at a rate of 740 a day or 270,200 by the end of 2016. This from a force that numbered 16,112,566 at the peak. It is estimated that of those in WW II only 1,711,000 now remain.
Many of our SunBird residents have served their country in various wars. Following are a few of them.
Dale Huffman (deceased) WW II – Army 1944; fought with First Army in first wave going ashore at the invasion of Normandy; wounded and received Purple Heart. Sent to Belgium; fought Battle of the Bulge; wounded by shell, survived it and frostbite; flown to English hospital, bomb hit it – unhurt sent home finally.
Bing Solomon – Viet Nam 1965; Southeast Asia mortar army sergeant in heavy artillery; ears damaged by heavy concussion.
Earl Ferguson – USAF 1955-58; pilot training and personnel; served in Philippines, rank of captain.
Jodie Perkins – Viet Nam; front lines Army 1966; field medic duties cared for and removed wounded; discharged 1969 as E-5.
Van Christman USAF 1943-47; served in England dodging the German buzz bombs constantly falling.
George Loury – USAF 1954-58; rank 1st lieutenant pilot flying C-124, cargo plane.
Rich Pickering – Korea Army 1952-53; sergeant of motor pool near front lines.
Bob Hamilton – Korea; joined Army in 1951 in heavy mortars supporting ground soldiers…barely missed being in battle of Old Baldy; later guarded women and children prisoners.
Rudy Corrado (deceased) WW II – Army Air Forc 1942-45; pilot B-24 duty Philippines mission to bomb oil fields in Borneo and Philippines; 37 raids to Okinawa to prepare for bombing Japan; atomic bombs changed that, crashed into Philippine Sea 1945; crew bailed out through bomb bay – all rescued; received Air Medal.
Let us honor our veterans all our days, and tell them how grateful we are for their sacrifices.