York County veterans honored at annual Veterans Day celebration, breakfast
Veteran Harold Redding is working to have a National Day of Remembrance for Vietnam veterans.
During the Korean War, Roger Zeigler lived in North Korea for 14½ months as a soldier in the Army Corps of Engineers.
"Looking back on it, I realized that was a very good deed that we'd done, to help the South Koreans retain their liberty and freedom from an invading nation," he said.
Zeigler trained at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri and was part of the 74th Engineer Combat Battalion.
"They marched us out there with a full field pack until we had blisters on the bottom of our feet," he said of a training exercise. "That was no cup of tea, either."
Zeigler, 88, of West York, joined hundreds of other veterans at the York Expo Center on Sunday, Nov. 11, to commemorate Veterans Day, eat breakfast together and honor those who have served in the armed forces.
A bagpiper played in the hall as everyone ate breakfast, and about 30 minutes before the formal presentation, the Central York Middle School Fife and Drum Corps marched into the hall and performed a prelude of military marches and patriotic tunes.
Centenarian: Carl Alwine, 101, served in the Pacific theater in the Army during World War II, at one point being under the command of Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the Philippines.
Alwine boarded a landing ship tank in New Orleans and traveled across the Pacific Ocean to get to Australia.
"An LST makes it about 5 mph, and it took us forever," he said of the long trip.
Alwine said he remembered he and his fellow soldiers smoking cigarettes below the deck and then sitting outside and talking until midnight. He said they didn't dare light their cigarettes outside at night because they weren't supposed to give off any light that could be seen by the enemy.
After breakfast was served, the formal presentation began.
Piper Glattacker, a student at Dallastown Area Senior High School, sang the national anthem, and Gordy Sheriff, chaplain for the Department of Pennsylvania Marine Corps League, gave the invocation.
Terry Gendron, master of ceremonies and director of York County Veterans Affairs, gave the opening remarks.
"The York vet is part of the fabric of our community," Gendron said. "We are leaders and members in schools, business, government, charities, youth and spiritual activities, nurturing and celebrating the rich freedoms that we all cherish."
After the fife and drum corps performed a medley of the armed forces' service songs, Gendron returned to the podium to present the George H. Eyler Meritorious Service Award to U.S. Army veteran Harold E. Redding.
Redding enlisted in the Army and served in Vietnam, Gendron said. He retired after 22 years of service and proceeded to continue serving the community in a number of volunteer posts once he returned home.
Gendron mentioned particularly Redding's role in the establishment of March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day, which President Donald Trump signed into law in March 2017.
In his remarks, Redding said that because the passage of time has a way of diminishing events in our history, he's taken up the cause of making sure Vietnam veterans are honored and remembered.
"Those of us who have survived our time in the military service must make sure that the service and sacrifice of all veterans, regardless of generation, are never forgotten," Redding said.
'Fight Like a Girl': Kate Germano, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and author of the book "Fight Like a Girl," gave the keynote address.
Germano discussed the importance of recognizing the service of women in the military and ensuring they are part of the community within the armed forces and veterans groups.
"My experience has been that women in both the military and veteran communities tend to walk just to the edge of the line of invisibility," she said.
Germano spoke about the fact that women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population, but they make up only 18 percent of the military. She said women who join the service looking for a community often find they are not included in the fold with their mostly male peers.
She told a story about a time when she was on recruiting duty in San Diego. She said her husband, Joe, who was also a Marine, sometimes accompanied her to recruiting events, and they would both wear their dress blues.
"Despite the fact that I was the commanding officer representing my Marines at the event, without a doubt, when people would come up to us to talk to us, they would gravitate to Joe," she said. "Every time."
Germano said her husband would explain to them that she was in fact in command, but people still directed their attention to him as the authority figure.
She briefly mentioned her time as a commanding officer at Parris Island, where new Marine recruits have boot camp.
Germano said the Marines are the only branch of the military in which men and women do not train side-by-side, and she said this negatively impacts the sense of community for the women and also leads to lower standards and gender bias against women.
Germano said one of the most important ways to begin to fix the gender divide in military and veteran communities is to begin to recognize women for their service.
"If we want the veteran community to really benefit from the talent and the opportunities that women bring, we need to be inclusive in our conversations about the veteran community, and that starts with asking three simple words," Germano said. "Have you served?"
Following Germano's remarks, York County Commissioner Susan Byrnes presented a gold coin of recognition to a woman who served during World War II. The woman was 99-year-old Frances McCabe, of Spring Garden Township.
McCabe taught nutrition classes in basic training and later worked in a deployment office along the Eastern Seaboard.
At the end of the program, the honor guard performed a rifle salute outside, and two buglers played taps. Gattacker returned to the stage and performed "God Bless America."