Veteran’s Day – A Time To Give Thanks
You might not recognize them walking the street, sitting beside them in at a church service, or quietly reading in a retirement home. A veteran’s response to duty is their own story, sometimes shared, other times very private. Yet, their sacrifices provided us our freedom.
Veteran’s Day is set aside to honor all who have served or are still serving in the Armed Forces, young and old, who have dedicated themselves to defend our country. Unlike Memorial Day, which honors those who fell in battle, Veteran’s Day has a broader meaning allowing for recognition of service men and women with parades, free meals in some restaurants, etc. and, above all, thanks.
I consider myself blessed to have had the opportunity over the last eight years to interview so many veterans, especially from WWII.
They came from all stations of life to serve, and their contributions should never be forgotten.
Marshall Soria was a family man, age 24, when in July of 1944 he entered the army, having become a US Citizen that previous September. In fact, when he arrived in Fumay France, in January of 1945, he was held back one day from the 6th Army, 110th Infantry Division, because he lacked proof of citizenship. Once all paperwork was in order, he joined his 3rd Battalion, 3rd Squad and took up his BAR Rifle to fight in the bitter cold Vosgas Mountains near the German border. Just issued one pair of boots, Marshall, like so many that fought that record setting winter in the Battle of the Bulge, suffered frostbite, but refused medical attention. He celebrated his 100th birthday in June of 2020.
Also participating in that long and deadly battle was Ken Huseman who at 19 was a member of the 8th Armored Division nicknamed the “Thundering Herd.” Their tactical call sign, “Tornado,” was later referred by a Newsweek journalist as the “Iron Snake” referring to their appearance in March of 1945 as they crossed the Rhine River. This group of young soldiers would go on to liberate a sub camp of Buchenwald, Halberstadt-Zwieberge.
Barney McCallum, grew up in Davenport Washington, part of the wheat belt of the Columbia Basin. His older brother was already in the service, so Barney couldn’t wait to join the US Navy. While engaged in the battle of Okinawa his ship took aboard Japanese prisoners, transporting them to Hawaii. In the two years he spent in the Navy, all but two months of that time were aboard ship docking at ports across the Pacific.
I would be remiss if, on this day of saluting those who served, I did not mention my father, Second Lieutenant Joseph C. Frisino, US Army Signal Corps. Dad was already in the service about to be discharged when WWII broke out. He liked to tell us he, “Did four years of overtime.”
After Pearl Harbor Dad’s unit was sent to Alaska to build the Alcan Highway in the freezing Alaskan winter. Next, he was sent via Northern Africa to the jungles of Burma. His first night in his tent he awoke to 25 uniquely colored frogs in his boots and hopping about. Constantly under Japanese sniper fire, he also had to be conscious of the dangerous jungle wildlife. In fact, he sent home a 15-foot python skin of the snake that attempted to slither into his tent when he was writing home to Mom.
Although all but Marshall have left us, we must continue to hold their stories close.
A salute to the next generation, especially Petty Office First Class Lew.