Thank veterans for their service in peace & war |

Thank veterans for their service in peace & war

Veterans Day gives all of us in the Lahontan Valley time to reflect on those who wear the uniform and serve their country in one of the armed services.

While the number of veterans has risen during the past decade because of Iraq and Afghanistan, the number of vets who have served during World War II and the Korean War keeps declining. Some of the latest estimates show that about 28 million veterans are still alive in the United States, but fewer than 1 million World War II vets out of 16 million who served remain, followed by 3 million from the Korean War and another 7 million from Vietnam.

During the year, the LVN has been honored to speak to World War II veterans who remembered their service and also recounted the final days of the war, both in Europe and Japan.

Now 91 years old, Valerie Bamford of Fallon enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in late 1940 and stayed for almost six years, serving most of the war at Fairfield-Suisun Army Air Base — now Travis Air Force Base — outside of Fairfield, Calif. Bamford said everyone was happy when the war in Japan officially ended on Sept. 2, 1945.

Infantryman John Martin "Marty" Wilson grew up in Scotland, enlisted in the British army and fought in Europe, seeing action in France, Belgium and Germany. The 89-year-old Wilson has lived in Fallon for a few years, and he still has a wealth of tales to tell.

Cecil Quinley, who has earned a spot in many residents' hearts, flew on 13 missions over Germany as a B-17 co-pilot before being shot down in enemy territory in 1943.

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And sadly, Kenneth Shockley, who witnessed the D-Day invasion and survived the thick of the fight, recently passed away; however, Highland Village, in its annual Veterans Day event, will recognize Shockley and his heroism during World War II.

As an 18-year-old Merchant Marine, Shockley ferried troops on a small landing craft from the larger Navy LSTs (landing ship, tanks) to Omaha Beach.

We are indebted not only to the veterans from the World War II era but also to those service men and women who served in both war and peace, a fact not lost on this community thanks to Lahontan Elementary School teacher Kieran Kalt, a former Army lieutenant who organizes every year a Veterans Day salute. She ensures that all of us will remember the previous and current veterans who have given so much of themselves to their country.

The last 13 years has produced more than 2.5 million veterans, many of whom served in Iraq or Afghanistan or both countries. That amount, though, does not include the servicemen and women who worked in support functions and did not deploy to the war zone.

This nation owes gratitude to veterans who took an oath to protect our freedoms and our way of life. That is why we, as citizens of the greatest country on Earth, should never forget the veterans who have unselfishly given of their time because of their love to the Stars and Stripes.

LVN editorials appear on Wednesdays.