As of Monday, August 6, 2018
Thirteen men and one woman from Sunnyside who served in World War II were recognized and honored by veterans of more recent wars, such as Korea, Viet Nam and the Gulf wars at a special gathering last Thursday.
Leading the charge was the Sunnyside American Legion, commanded by Greg Schlieve. Hosting the pie, cake and ice cream banquet was the Veterans of Foreign Wars at the VFW building.
The WWII vets, all in their 90s, with 100-year-old Bill Amsden the oldest, didn’t say much, but their eyes and smiles were beaming.
“In 10 years, there probably won’t be any World War II veterans left,” Schlieve said after the banquet.
Also, on hand were two representatives of Quilts of Valor, a national organization of volunteers who make patriotic-themed quilts with which to honor the veterans. Jeff Bostick and John Cole presented a quilt to each of the veterans, and they surprised Schlieve and his assistant Leroy Werkhoven.
“Just like us, they are Vietnam veterans, and when they came home, some people were not very nice to them,” Bostick said. “So, we brought Quilts of Valor for them too.”
Afterward, Schlieve said: “We had no idea. This was not part of the plan.”
In addition to the gifts, the organizers brought the WWII vets together to give them another round of thanks.
“If it hadn’t been for these men and women, we might be speaking another language now,” VFW Commander Bill Ingraham said. “We are able to gather like this today because of them.”
The veterans in charge of the event were gentlemanly. They placed Betty George, the lone Women’s Army Corps WWII veteran in Sunnyside, at the head of the line. She received every gift first.
In addition to the Quilts of Valor, each vet received an embroidered WWII Vet cap from the VFW. And each WWII vet received a Certificate of Victory, arranged by the American Legion.
“Each person who served was supposed to receive one upon leaving the military after the war,” Schlieve said. “But everybody was in a hurry to get home, and the government was in a hurry to down-size the military, and only about 10 percent of the men and women got the certificates.”
Not all the WWII vets were honored at the VFW. Earlier Thursday, Jack Moran and George Seebeck received their gifts at the Assisted Living Center.
Receiving their gifts at the Prestige Nursing home were Frederick Rougk and Bill De La Paz.
Not receiving their gifts were Russ Lindstrand, Siy Grigsby, Fred Rollinger and Don Cole. They will receive theirs later this summer.
The veterans who received their gifts at the VFW Hall presentation were Betty George, Bill Amsden, Dave Van Dyke, Ralph Prescott, Howard Frye, Darrel Cook, Fernando Farias, Richard Roach, Joe Gordon, Gene Startup and Toby Clemetson.