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York World War II vets honored as numbers dwindle

David Weissman

Storming the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944, John Everard wasn't thinking about one day being honored at veterans' events

The 91-year-old Everard, who served in the Army from 1943 to 1946, was one of eight men who stood to be recognized at Monday's annual Pearl Harbor and Battle of the Bulge Breakfast, hosted by the York County Veterans Affairs Office."We were all just 18 or 19 years old and didn't think anything of it," he said of the Wold War II invasion that led to the liberation of western Europe. "It was only after that it became apparent how important it was."

Everard, who moved to Shiloh from Kansas City in 1973, said he only recently started regularly attending events honoring veterans and doesn't keep in contact with other World War II veterans.

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"There's not too many of us left," he said.

Juan Mafnas, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, said he attends such events often and has started to see the number of World War II veterans dwindle.

"It's a shame," he said. "There are still a lot of Vietnam vets, but in 10 years or so, we'll be in the same situation."

Mafnas served 27 years of active duty and has taught youth ROTC at William Penn Senior High School since 1996. He will be retiring after this school year, and he was presented with the ceremonial American flag during the

Phil Palandro, director of York County Veterans Affairs, visits with John Everard, 91, of Shiloh during the Pearl Harbor and Battle of the Bulge Breakfast Monday, Dec. 7, 2015. Everard stormed the beaches of Normandy during his stint in the Army in WWII. The breakfast was held at the Wyndam Garden York. (Bill Kalina - The York Dispatch)

breakfast's salute.

"I don't teach to recruit for the military," said Mafnas, who spoke during the ceremony about his father's cousin being killed during the attacks on Pearl Harbor. "Kids today need to know about the sacrifices of those that came before them, and we can't forget that freedom is not free."

Mafnas added that the current war on terror causes him greater concern than previous wars.

"World War I, World War II, all the other wars, we knew it was over when we signed treaties," he said. "Who do we sign a treaty with to end the war on terror?"

Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com.