By Sean Barron
Tears fill Vince Giering’s eyes when he recalls his best friend’s having been shot in the leg and dying a short time later during World War II.
“I brought him to a foxhole but by the time we could get an ambulance, he was gone,” the 90-year-old Army veteran recalled, crying.
Also painful to Giering and many other veterans – especially those in long-term health care centers – is the feeling that they have been forgotten.
That is changing, however, thanks largely to an effort to recognize and honor veterans of all military branches who served during WWII as well as in the Korean and Vietnam wars and who live in area nursing homes and retirement centers.
Giering was one of four veterans who attended a meeting Sunday at American Legion Post 472, 323 E. Indianola Ave., on the South Side, to discuss the matter. They also are residents at Assumption Village, a long-term care facility in North Lima, who were given free memberships to the American Legion post as a token of appreciation for their service. Fourteen others from two care facilities also received the honor.
The other three veterans at the one-hour session were Carl Englehart, who served four years in the Marines; Bob Barton, a Navy veteran who repaired aircraft; and Nicholas Cipollone, an Army medic.
Giering, who received training at Fort Riley, Kan., and Camp Butler, N.C., joined the Civilian Conservation Corps at age 15 to help build flood gates on the Yellowstone River. During his military career, Giering served in Gen. George Patton’s army, he said.
Also at the meeting was Giering’s daughter, Deborah Giering of Youngstown, a parts inspector at Delphi Packard who praised her father for his service.
Englehart received his basic training in Beaufort, S.C., before joining the Marines’ Air Corps unit. A few months ago, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, sent Englehart the Legion Merit Award for his actions above the call of duty at Guadalcanal, an island in the South Pacific.
Being American Legion members gives the veterans opportunities to talk to one another about their wartime experiences, which can be therapeutic, noted Sarah Schlegal, an Assumption Village activities aide.
“It’s a healing process for them,” agreed Gary Jamison, nurse manager for special-care residents. “That’s why I want them to talk to the group.”
Jamison, a Navy veteran who served four years in Vietnam, said he hopes the local effort to honor such veterans will take place nationwide. Last January, Assumption Village met and formed an affiliation with Post 472 after learning about the post’s new home, noted Melessa Scattino, the care center’s administrator.
Also at Sunday’s session, Robert L. Patton, Post 472’s adjunct and finance officer, received a plaque for his work in building the post’s new home, which opened Feb. 1.