Between 1939 and 1945 more than 16 million Americans enlisted in the armed forces during World War II to protect the United States of America and help restore order to a world gone mad. In 2014, only 1.2 million of those veterans remain alive and are dying at a rate of 600 veterans a day.
With an underlying sense of urgency, the local chapter of Sons in Retirement felt the need to properly honor remaining local veterans of the Greatest Generation. SIR is an organization for retired or semi-retired men and provides a fraternity type environment regardless of religion, political views or race. Rick Kindle serves as the local program chair. He said Wednesday’s program was especially important to him because his father and father-in-law served in World War II, and it was in remembrance of John A. Brasher, his father-in-law, who was a paratrooper in World War II and featured in Life Magazine.
“This was an opportunity to acknowledge our World War II veterans and on a personal note, I don’t know that I ever properly honored my father and father-in-law for their service in World War II. Many of the members of this club are veterans of World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, so this event is important to them as well,” said Kindle.
The need to acknowledge the service of these men was evident on Wednesday as the SIR program drew 200 attendees, many of whom were not members, but had heard of the event and wanted to show support, since some of which were veterans themselves. The 21 veterans that were honored by Chief Master Sergeant James N. Sullivan of the Non Commissioned Officers Association stood shoulder to shoulder as they were presented with a Medallion of Honor and Remembrance as well as a certificate from Turlock Mayor John Lazar.
“The heroic virtues that you displayed under extraordinary circumstances — valor, sacrifice, fidelity —must be known and burnt in the hearts of every succeeding generation. Your courage and that of your countless comrades-in-arms has taught us the heroic price of freed,” said Sullivan.
The veterans were met with a standing ovation and the program provided the veterans an opportunity to reconnect with friends and fellow veterans alike.
“It really means a lot that people took the time to do this, that they still think about the war and that they care,” said Rex Anderson, a retired local dentist who served in the Navy between 1943 and 1948.