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Mission BBQ honors York County veterans

John A. Pavoncello
York Dispatch

COVID-19 put a temporary halt to most Veterans Day events in York County on Wednesday, but that didn't stop Mission BBQ from opening its doors for a free lunch for veterans and to honor one local man in particular for his service.

John Stambaugh received his draft card in June 1942. While attending a physical fitness test for military service, Stambaugh was told he would be drafted into the U.S. Army within 10 days, he said.

"I thought, if I'm gonna die, I wanna die on a boat on the water," Stambaugh said. So at the age of 21, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy.

After enlisting, Stambaugh said, he breezed through knowledge tests, "especially math," and was offered his choice of job in the Navy. Stambaugh decided to be a quartermaster. 

Eleven weeks into his 16-week quartermaster school, Stambaugh said, he was pulled out of classes to become an instructor. He taught navigation to fellow quartermasters — even though, at that point, he hadn't been on a boat of any kind.

Stambaugh, 99, served in World War II and the Korean War. During his 11 years in the military, Stambaugh traveled to South America, where the ship he was on rescued a crew from a sunken German U-boat floating in a lifeboat; to the Bikini Atoll for the U.S. nuclear tests; and to Japan, where he visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki following the atomic bomb strikes.

Quartermaster First Class (RET) John Stambaugh, 99 of York, waves as he his honored during Mission BBQ Veterans Day ceremony, Wednesday, November 11, 2020.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Mission BBQ's York restaurant has several veterans and current service personnel as part of its team, including U.S. Army Spc. Gage Carter, an active-duty member of the Army National Guard. He opened the Veterans Day ceremony with his rendition of the national anthem.

Following the anthem, restaurant general manager Chris McCullough called attention to Stambaugh, who stood and waved to the crowd of fellow veterans clapping for him. 

"This is beyond my expectations," Stambaugh said of being the guest of honor at Mission BBQ's Veterans Day ceremony. "I really appreciate it."