Appreciation for veterans ran high Sept. 9 at VFW Post 7288 in Calabash, N.C. when it invited veterans living at Summit Place in Little River to have lunch at the post.
“This is a tribute to heroes,” said Dan Kossler of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C., senior vice commander of the post. “People don’t understand what they did.”
Mike Crowley of Sunset Beach, N.C., adjutant of the post, explained that his father was a POW in Germany for 19 months during World War II. In tribute to him, Crowley displayed some of the impressive memorabilia he found when his father passed away, including the Distinguished Flying Cross. “His diary says so much. Getting a potato was like a million dollar bill,” Crowley said. “People don’t understand what they went through.”
Summit Place resident and post member Pat Patterson, 96, was also a prisoner of war in Germany during WW II when his plane was shot down. He explained he’ll be moving to Cincinnati, OH in a few weeks after living in the area since 1973. “I’m going by choice,” he said. “I’ll be with family.”
The luncheon was the brainchild of Jerry Aach of Sunset Beach, N.C., a member of the men’s auxiliary at the post and an Air Force veteran. His sister lives at Summit Place, so he visits her and the veterans there often and explained that health conditions often keep the residents indoors. The visit to the post was a way for the veterans to socialize with members and enjoy a change of scene. A dozen of the 20 veterans who reside at Summit Place were able to attend, one of whom was WWII Navy nurse, Eleanor Loughlin. About 60 post members greeted them and helped serve the salad and meatballs and spaghetti plate plus dessert and beverages.
Statistics from the Veterans Administration state that of the 16 million who served in WWII only about 855,070 are still living.
Summit Place resident Joe Sfraga [CQ] reminded everyone that there were Korean veterans present, too. Sfraga served in Korea and was in the Army from 1951-54. The Veterans Administration statistics state of the 5.7 million who served in Korea, about 2.1 million are living.
When asked what he said when told he was invited to the post, Bob Gift, who served in the Air Force from 1950-54, commented, “I said, whoopee!”
Gen Prince, activities director at Summit Place, accompanied the guests to the post. “It’s an honor to be around veterans,” she said. “They have lots of stories to tell, and they appreciate the recognition they get. If it wasn’t for them…” she stops, unable to find the words. “I love being around them,” she finally said.
“They did so much for us,” said Lou Canestrino, a volunteer at Summit Place. “I just like them.”
The veterans marveled at the number of American flags flying at the front of the post’s building on the sunny day, and mentioned that fact most often when asked about their outing.
The memories of their time is service haven’t faded, and they never regret having served.
“You can’t do enough for them,” Kossler said.
VFW Post 7288, 900 Carter Drive, Calabash, NC, 910-579-3577, myvfw.org/nc/post7288