The National World War II Museum estimates just under 500 second World War veterans are dying every single day. Sixteen million served for the United States in the war and now less than 855,000 remain. By 2036, it’s estimated there will be none left to relay their experiences.
It’s in that same vein, the White County Historical Society’s 2016 President Gene Jordan set out on a mission…to document the memories of 9 White County World War II veterans. He made some phone calls, twisted some elbows and urged family members to support the effort and then made stops, one by one with a video camera, list of questions, friendly smile and an eager ear. He was rewarded with hours of footage, some of which was shared at the Monday night meeting.
What Jordan captured were priceless moments, incredible details, humorous recollections and poignant, sometimes touching memories from the local heroes. Among them, were Ralph Anselment, James R. Endicott, Harry Barbre, Henry Lewis, Harold Stahl, Samuel Endicott, Kent Boeger, Gene Gowdy and William “Bill” Harmon. Tables at the dinner meeting were filled with not only Historical Society members, but the loved ones of veterans and those genuinely interested in World War II history.
Among the nine men, all of them were supposed to be awarded two medals, the Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. Some of them never received their due thanks to a glitch in the mail delivery system of the time so the White County Historical Society made it right. Gene Jordan presented each of the men with both of their medals. The DVD’s, “A Tribute to our World War II Veterans” are available for $20. Contact Gene Jordan for a copy…618-383-5330.
During the business portion, Valarie Berekashvili was elected as a new board of director, replacing Henry Lewis who served for many years on the board. In addition to Jordan as President, also elected were Paula Pierson as Vice President, Ranelle Hubele as Secretary and Jeff Bohleber as Treasurer.
Other board members will include David Brown, Marjorie Brown, Cindy Conley, Judith Cutchin, Lecta Hortin, Barb Kearney, and Mary McRoy. Kent Boeger was named an honorary board member, Suellen Smith will serve as Past President, Kristin Land will again chair the newsletter, while Suellen Smith and Barry Cleveland were appointed Mary Smith Fay Trustees.