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Steve Ranson: Introducing our war veterans

By Steve Ranson

Another Veterans Day has passed, and every year, this day gives many of us a short time to reconnect with former veterans from the different services. For me, it’s a chance to introduce veterans to the community through my writing.

Jerry Smith served in the Navy during the last two years of World War II and then again from 1946-1950. This turned out to be an emotional story as Jerry reflects on his time in service and his relationship with his stepfather.

I also spent a Sunday afternoon earlier this month visiting with retired 1st Sgt. Harry Schroeder and his wife Helena. Both served on active duty and then in the Nevada Army National Guard. Between them, they deployed four times.

Harry was the first sergeant o the 503rd Transportation Co., when I embedded with the unit in Afghanistan in 2012.

Finally, Col. Mike Peyerl is the Nevada Army National Guard’s chief of staff in Carson City. He has served for 25 years and spent 2011 in beautiful Afghanistan at Kandahar Airfield with the 422nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion. A side note here: I taught Mike in sophomore and AP English at Churchill County High School.

Veterans Day wouldn’t be complete without a parade to cover. I spent part of the morning in Virginia City taking photos of the annual parade for a photo spread which appeared in Saturday’s Nevada Appeal and also for a photo album on the LVN Facebook page.

The Fallon Elks Club held its annual dinner for veterans. The room was full, and the Elks Club always does a good job honoring our veterans. I spoke to the veterans about a new book written by yours truly, Ken Beaton and David Henley, entitled Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to War. It’s a book of World War II veterans who either grew up in Nevada and left for the war or those who hailed from other states and made Nevada their final home.

The Elks raffled a book, and a young girl had the winning number. She wants to give the book to her father as a Christmas gift. I brought a number of books and sold all but two. All proceeds go to Honor Flight Nevada.

And finally, one last thank you to a veteran. My father died in 2001, but he is part of the Greatest Generation. He joined the Navy during the last year of the war and found himself on an LST north of the Philippines. I have written several thousand veteran and military articles since the early 1980s, but I am missing one. My father never wanted to discuss his service, which was common for veterans of that era. He’s buried at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley, and when I’m there to gather information for a story, I stop in to say hi, talk to him about the family and thank him for his guidance. So far, he hasn’t told me to cut the BS.

On Veterans Day, I thanked him again for his service as a WWII and Korean War vet. In my article on the 93-year-old Jerry Smith, which appeared in Saturday’s Appeal and today’s LVN, he said his father told him it’s OK to cry when someone close dies. There’s nothing wrong with that. I took his advice just for the day. Veterans Day was one of those days.

The article on Smith has been part of a year-long series of articles on World War II veterans. This year is special because 2020 marks the 75th anniversary when war ended in Europe and the Pacific, and to commemorate the two, our newspaper group has printed stories of on veterans and significant milestones to remember the war.

In case you missed last week’s articles on Veterans Day, I’ve included the links.

Steve Ranson is editor emeritus of the Lahontan Valley News, but he continues to write military articles and veteran profiles. Many of his articles along with those written by Ken Beaton and David Henley are included in a recently released book, Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to War.” Visit Legacies of the Silver State on Facebook for additional information.