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Memorial Day coast to coast, American Legion-style

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As the nation remembers those members of the military no longer with us this weekend, American Legion Family members across the nation are stepping up to lead Memorial Day observances in their communities, towns and cities. The events include parades, ceremonies and the placing of U.S. flags on veterans’ graves – along with a few less-traditional events.

In the nation’s capital, American Legion National Vice Commander Paul I. Spedaliere is laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown as part of the Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The annual ceremony is attended by thousands and is sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Nearby, hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists will gather in the Beltway for the annual Rolling Thunder Freedom Ride. Among those will be the hundreds of American Legion Riders who have registered to attend various Rolling Thunder-related events originating out of American Legion Post 177 in Fairfax, Va.

In New York, members of Post 1941 in Port Jefferson and thousands of volunteers, including Boy Scouts, will place approximately 270,000 flags on veterans’ graves at Calverton National Cemetery on May 25. It’s the 25th year Post 1941 members have placed flags at the cemetery for Memorial Day. The event starts at 9 a.m., with a ceremony at 11 a.m.

On Memorial Day in Milltown, N.J., Post 25 will begin Memorial Day services at 9 a.m. in front of the post at Veterans Memorial Park. At 1 p.m., they’ll conduct their eighth annual Hometown Hero program, honoring 20 local men and women who have served, with banners for each of the heroes being placed on street poles in town after the program.

And in Georgia, American Legion Riders of Post 233 in Loganville will conduct their 21st annual Ride for America on Memorial Day. Nearly 1,000 motorcyclists are expected to participate in the ride which raises money for The American Legion Legacy Fund to help children of fallen and disabled post-9/11 veterans receive a higher education. Donations raised also go to support post programs. Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. R. Steven Whitcomb will serve as the grand marshall of the police escorted ride that leaves Post 233 at 9:30 a.m. and travels 38 miles through small towns before arriving in Madison for a Memorial Day ceremony and then back to the post for food and raffle prizes.

The following are just a few examples of what American Legion posts will be doing leading up to and on Memorial Day. We ask that you share photos and stories of your Memorial Day events at www.legiontown.org.

Arizona

American Legion Post 96 in Surprise will lay a wreath at the annual memorial ceremony May 25 at the World War II monument in Surprise. Post 96 Commander Mike Elliott will be guest speaker. And on Memorial Day, American Legion Posts 96, 62 and 94 will take part in the North West Valley Veterans Association’s Memorial Day Ceremony at Sunland Memorial Park in Sun City. The ceremony includes a Falcon Warbirds flyover with vintage aircraft, American Legion Riders from Chapters 96 and 62, and a procession of organizational flags.

California

• On May 24, American Legion Post 191 in Kingsburg will meet with local junior high students to drive stakes into the head of veterans’ graves in the area. The following morning the post gathers volunteers to place a flag and a cross with a poppy on each grave; last year nearly 1,300 graves were decorated. The post’s American Legion Family will also take part in the Memorial Day ceremony that will honor Gold Star mothers, feature a reading of “In Flanders Field” and a high school presentation on how patriotism is viewed by the student body. Following the ceremony the post serves punch and cookies.

• Post 233 in Elk Grove is hosting The American Legion Walk for Veterans on Memorial Day.

Florida

Gainesville’s 17th Memorial Day parade is doubling as a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Paul E. Bolding American Legion Post 7. The parade, organized by Post 7 Commander Dave Dellinger, will be led by members of the post. There are approximately 54 groups comprised of more than 1,000 individuals participating in the parade

Illinois

American Legion Post 264 in Lake Forest will be decorating veterans’ graves at local cemeteries and also will conduct its annual Memorial Day ceremony in Market Square. A senior U.S. Navy officer from Naval Station Great Lakes will be the main speaker, and the Lake Forest High School band, local Scouts and members of American Legion Post 264 will take part in the ceremony. After the ceremony, the post's color guard and rifle squad will hold military honors at St. Mary's Cemetery, Lake Forest Cemetery and St. Patrick's Cemetery.

Maine

Chester L. Briggs Post 47 in Houlton is hosting several Memorial Day-related events, including a ceremony and wreath laying at Soldiers’ Hill in the Evergreen Cemetery, a parade and a memorial service.

Michigan

Patrick Leo Hanlon Post 55 in Albion already has placed flags on the graves of veterans in two major cemeteries. The posts also coordinates, hosts and presents the Albion Memorial Day Parade every year.

Minnesota

American Legion Family members from St. Joseph Post 328 have a series of activities planned for Memorial Day, including a march to a 9 a.m. service at St. Joseph Catholic Church and a memorial service at St. Joseph Cemetery. The post will serve refreshments following the service, and later in the day post members and the post’s honor guard will attend ceremonies at St. John’s Abbey cemetery and Yankee Cemetery.

New York

Botts-Fiorito American Legion Post 576 in Le Roy is conducting Memorial Day services at two community cemeteries. Following the ceremonies, Post 576 is inviting the public to its facility for free hots dogs and soft drinks.

New Hampshire

American Legion Post 1 in Laconia is teaming up with other local organizations to sponsor a Field of Flags display on the lawns of the Congregational Church and around the flag pole in Veterans Square. The display will be up all weekend and will consist of 3,936 flags representing the names of fallen heroes listed on veterans’ memorials in the downtown area. There also will be a flag dedication ceremony on May 26 and a parade on May 27.

New Jersey

• American Legion Post 414 in Lawrenceville is co-sponsoring Lawrence Township’s annual Memorial Day parade on May 25. The parade will include marching bands, local organizations and college veterans associations.

• Legion Family in Atlantic County will stage their annual Memorial Day program at 2 p.m. Friday at the Estell Manor cemetery. The annual parade will start at 11 a.m. Monday at Dawes Avenue School in Somers Point.

• Post 120 in Lambertville is the starting point for a joint Legion-VFW-city Memorial Day parade beginning at 8:30 a.m.

• Post 129 in Toms River will have a Memorial Day parade beginning at 9 a.m.

• Post 158 in Egg Harbor City sponsors a city parade and memorial service beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Lincoln City Park.

• Post 72 in Brooklawn will hold a Memorial Day service beginning at 10 a.m.

• Legion Family members in Morris County will participate in a Memorial Day ceremony at the All Veterans Memorial in Budd Lake beginning at 10:30 a.m.

• Post 469 in Longport plans and coordinates the town’s Memorial Day parade, ceremony and hot dog picnic, with events beginning at 11 a.m. with the parade, which starts at 33rd and Atlantic Avenues.

North Carolina

Post 436 in Angier is placing flags on veterans’ graves on May 25.

Oklahoma

American Legion Post 153 in Wagoner is conducting a Memorial Day service at the Wagoner County Courthouse that will include a wreath-laying ceremony, a performance by high school vocalists, words from various community leaders and an address by Post 153 Commander Art Corrales. Post 153 members also are spending the days leading up to Memorial Day teaming up with community members to mark veterans’ graves with U.S. flags at Elmwood and Pioneer cemeteries. And on Saturday, Auxiliary Unit 153 members will be at the Wagoner Walmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to sell lapel poppies.

Pennsylvania

American Legion Liberty Post 308 in Willow Grove is placing flags on veterans’ graves May 25 at five local cemeteries. On May 26 the post’s honor guard and American Legion Riders attend church services, and then the post hosts a ceremony and pig roast in the afternoon.

Tennessee

Hilton Stone Post 279 in Woodbury is supervising Boy Scout Troop 1180 as it places 144 U.S. flags around the veterans memorial on Courthouse Square.

Virginia

• In Springfield, American Legion Post 176 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7327 will combine for their annual Memorial Day ceremony honoring Gold Star families and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

• Harold J. Davis Post 247 in Remington is participating in the Memorial Day parade in Warrenton. Before the parade post members and local elementary school students place flags at four local cemeteries.

Washington

Members of William C. Stacey Post 206 in Seattle will be volunteering at and participating in a Memorial 5K run on Saturday as part of the University of Washington's weeklong events commemorating Memorial Day.

West Virginia

Tyler County Unit/Post 48 in Middlebourne will place flags on nearly 1,000 graves and honor seven young men from the area who were killed in action in Vietnam. Gold Star flags will be presented to their families, and a parade that finishes with a horse drawn wagon carrying a flag draped coffin with the riderless horse following also will take place.

Wisconsin

• American Legion Post 165 in Two Rivers is honoring veterans by flags on graves, and conducting a parade and ceremony.

• Triple Nickel Post 555 in Sheboygan is placing flags at one of the local cemeteries and taking part in the City of Sheboygan Memorial Day Parade.


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VA Skips Hearing Addressing Government Watchdog Recommendations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held its first Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing entitled, “Improving the Department of Veterans Affairs Effectiveness: Responding to Recommendations from Oversight Agencies” to address VA’s plan to remove itself from the GAO High Risk List. But, in unprecedented and unacceptable fashion, VA refused to participate in the hearing. “By not appearing today, VA is ignoring an opportunity to show that it care about addressing the serious concerns GAO and the IG have identified,” said Chairman Takano. “Congress has a constitutional duty to oversee the federal government and this Committee will not abandon its responsibility to protect the interests of veterans, their families, and taxpayers. The Department and the Committee have a history of working cooperatively with each other and I expect VA to show up for the Committee’s future hearings.” “Frankly, I find the VA’s absence at today’s hearing unacceptable,” said Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Pappas. “The Secretary did not offer any scheduling conflicts or other credible reasons for why he decided not to participate. Rather, he seemed to feel that it would not be in his, or the Department’s, best interests to share a panel with our two oversight witnesses. I disagree. I had planned to ask the Secretary today was whether he considers addressing the audits, examinations, and recommendations of the GAO and Inspector General to be a high priority, but VA’s refusal to even participate in today’s hearing speaks volumes.” The Committee on Veterans’ Affairs needs to learn how VA will address the concerns identified by independent, credible investigators and auditors. It is Congress’ duty to ensure veterans are not being taken advantage of and look out for veterans across the country. Without VA’s participation, the Committee will be unable to properly fulfill its oversight role. ###

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Flags for Freedom: grads remember fallen alum

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Five years ago, Kaye Weninger of Locust Valley, N.Y., had an idea to connect dots between The American Legion, local businesses, the high school, the U.S. flag and an association she helped revive into one expression of appreciation for all who serve in uniform and the banner under which they do.

Thus was born Flags for Freedom, coordinated by Operation Democracy and supported by Howard Van Wagner Post 962 in Locust Valley and John Spittel Post 1285 in nearby Bayville.

Since then, the program has evolved in multiple ways that came to a poignant crescendo last Monday when more than 150 graduating seniors received from local Legionnaires 3-by-5-foot cloth U.S. flags purchased from American Legion Emblem Sales. The fifth of these distributions since 2014 was made more meaningful because on April 8, 2019, a graduate of Locust Valley High School (LVHS) lost his life in Afghanistan after a roadside bomb attack as he was serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The ceremony at the high school, attended by the mother of Marine Sgt. Robert Hendriks, was titled a “Memorial Day Remembrance Program.”

“As a community, we understand that we are able to be here today and live our lives because of the sacrifices that Robby has made,” LVHS student Caitlin O’Hare said in tribute to the 2012 graduate who enlisted with the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after he graduated. “With the spirit of our program today – respect for the flag, freedom, service and America – please join me in applause to recognize Sgt. Robert Hendriks, a true, selfless American hero, and the Hendriks family, for the willingness to make the greatest sacrifice for the benefit of us all.”

In addition to the flags, graduates were presented copies of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, all in honor of those who serve and have served. “Our program is dedicated to our seniors and in honor of our veterans, through the efforts of Operation Democracy, to say thank you to our patriots and service members,” LVHS Principal Patrick DiClemente said. “The effort is to send seniors ahead, at this Memorial Day time, when we honor the lives of past service men and women with an enhanced understanding of dedication and selflessness of individuals who commit, or have committed, their service to America.”

The event also provided an opportunity to recognize four LVHS students who have enlisted to serve in the U.S. armed forces after graduation, including Tom Hogan, who participated in New York’s American Legion Boys State program and has been accepted into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

“School needs to be well-rounded and really support the fact that everyone has an opportunity,” DiClemente said. “It could be that a student feels successful in a math class. It may also mean a student is a successful musician or athlete or successful in heating and ventilation. We all take different pathways, but we are going to be successful and work hard.”

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cherise Herrera, making her second straight appearance to distribute flags to the seniors, joined Marine Sgt. Phillip Smile onstage to fold one U.S. flag into a triangle while student Timber Zino explained the meaning of each fold.

“As we fold these flags and present them to you today, I want you to never forget what they symbolize,” Staff Sgt. Herrera said. “They symbolize hope. They symbolize freedom. They symbolize opportunity. They symbolize people of valor, such as Sgt. Hendriks, who sacrificed their lives so that we can have the privilege to chase our dreams.”

The students received a message from retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Eric Rosborg, a 1971 graduate of LVHS, who donated two flags that were in service with him during combat operations in the Middle East. “Your flag is your touchstone, the symbol of all Americans, and a reminder that your future is made possible by a long history of service and sacrifice,” Maj. Gen. Rosborg said in a statement presented by the principal. “Our founders established a country like no other. Our flag does not stand for government. It does not stand for government power or ideology or military conquest. It represents people.”

“We’re talking about a lot of different things today,” Marine Corps Maj. Patrick Kelly of nearby Oyster Bay, N.Y., told the students. “We’re talking about the flags we are going to take forward with us when we leave and graduate. We are talking about the service of servicemembers and veterans in our community. We touched on the service of one of your fellow alumni who was killed in action just a few weeks ago. One of the things we talk about specifically, when we are discussing the American flag, is how blessed we are. There’s a lot of guys around the world today in very hot places, with a lot of heavy equipment on, and I want to make sure you keep that in mind as you look at these flags today. This flag is one of the only things they have that brings them comfort, and they are thinking about people like you at home.”

Early in the program, acting Superintendent of Schools Dr. Carl Bonuso reflected on the flag’s meaning to him as he trained at Fort Sill, Okla., in the middle of the Vietnam War and what it meant when, on one assignment, he presented a folded flag to the mother of a helicopter pilot who lost his life in the war. “Fifty years later, I found myself watching another family suffer through that,” he said, referencing the family of Sgt. Hendriks.

“We ask all of you to remember those who made the great sacrifice, and what that truly means,” Bonuso said. “Do not surrender this day to sorrow. Indeed, they made their sacrifice so as to protect our rights to a life filled with liberty and enabling us to pursue happiness. They have given you today. They have given you tomorrow… and the day after that and the day after that, so that generations that follow could enjoy these liberties.”

Weninger, whose Operation Democracy portfolio includes a “Painting for Peace” art exchange with students from Locust Valley sister city Ste. Mere-Eglise, France, and other activities, said, “I really do think we are making a difference. I wanted to teach students who our veterans were, who our active-duty soldiers are, and I wanted to educate them about what Veterans Day was, and what Memorial Day meant.”

The Flags for Freedom program, in which Legionnaires from Locust Valley and Bayville gather in advance to fold all the banners and prepare them for presentation, offers an excellent opportunity for members of the community in general to connect with the school, DiClemente said. “It shouldn’t be that the only time older people come back to the school is for a reunion. I really appreciate The American Legion, which has been open to bridging the gap.”


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Chairman Takano Delivers Remarks on “Kiddie Tax” Fix for Gold Star Families

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (CA-41) spoke at a press conference highlighting Representative Elaine Luria’s bill, the Gold Star Family Tax Relief Act, which would fix the “kiddie tax” loophole that forces Gold Star families to pay extra taxes on their survivors benefits. Below is a link to the video of the Chairman’s speech and his remarks as prepared: [[{"fid":"56","view_mode":"full","fields":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false},"link_text":null,"type":"media","field_deltas":{"1":{"format":"full","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":false,"field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":false}},"attributes":{"style":"height: 375px; width: 500px;","class":"media-element file-full","data-delta":"1"}}]] Thank you to Speaker Pelosi, Representative Luria, and my colleagues who have been champions on this issue and who are working to rectify this injustice. As Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs I see it as one of our utmost responsibilities to support the families of servicemembers who have died while serving our country. In fact, it’s our duty to support them. Last Congress, when my Republican colleagues rammed through their tax scam they made sure that the largest corporations and the richest people in our country were able to benefit from this heist. In this rushed process, they carelessly glossed over the true impact their legislation would have on millions of families across the country. This tax hike on Gold Star Families was a direct result of Republicans irresponsibility and has created an additional burden for the families of our heroes -- we must work swiftly to correct it. Americans everywhere expressed outrage when we first heard of the reports that Gold Star Families were forced to pay more in taxes this year on the benefits of Gold Star children. Gold Star families, and especially children, have made an incredible sacrifice for their country too, they should not be burdened by additional taxes on the benefits our country owes them. In fact, members of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors are on Capitol Hill today to discuss these unfair practices that negatively impact the lives of surviving spouses and their children. Representative Luria’s bill will fix this unjust tax burden, and I am proud to support her work on this issue. As Chairman, I am fully committed to fixing these wrongs, and I call on every Member to commit to voting yes to remove this burdensome tax. To all the Gold Star Spouses that are here today-- know that your families service lives on. We will never stop fighting for you and your families. Now, I’d like to introduce Cheryl Lankford, the spouse of Sergeant Major Jonathan M. Lankford Sr. ###  

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Woodbury American Legion Post 501 honors World War II veterans

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This year Memorial Day is May 27. But what is Memorial Day? To many it is an extra day off of work or a day to take a trip with the family. But what really is Memorial Day? Memorial Day or Decoration Day originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. Today however, Memorial Day honors all American military personnel who died in all wars.

On Memorial Day, we also have the opportunity to recognize the many veterans who have honorably served our country and to thank them for their service. We are especially thankful to our oldest veterans. These veterans of World War II are dying quickly. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, only 496,777 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II were alive in 2018. Woodbury American Legion Post 501 in Minnesota is honored to have six living World War II veterans who are members of the post. These veterans are Emil Bartylla, John Pfulgi, Henry Kolashinki, Paul Esparza, Jane Fee and Walter Merrill. Each of these men and women came from different walks of life and were drafted into various branches of the military and served in many different roles during and after World War II.

When the United States entered World War II in December 1941, Fort Snelling became the induction point for more than 300,000 men and women who joined the armed forces. These volunteers and draftees came from all over the state of Minnesota, from the Iron Range to the prairies of Minnesota. The common characteristics they all had was patriotism and love of country. This is the story of three of Post 501 members.

Emil Bartylla was born Dec. 24, 1925, in Browerville, Minn., which is situated in the heart of Minnesota, nestled by the meandering Long Prairie River where the forest and prairie meet. Bartylla was the son of Polish immigrants and grew up on his family farm.

Bartylla was drafted into the Navy in 1944. He graduated from Boot Camp at the U.S. Navy Training Center at Farragut, Idaho, Company 6027, Regiment 1, Battalion 4 later that year. Seaman Bartylla spent the next 21 months aboard the USS California (BB-44) in L Division (i.e., lookout) where he was responsible for identification of enemy ships and aircraft as the California fought in battles in the Pacific, including the Mariana and Palau Islands. As a ship lookout, he served as the “eyes” of his ship, seeing and reporting any enemy ship or plane before it could be a danger to the ship. This required excellent vision, hearing and endurance. This was quite the change for a country boy from the prairies of Minnesota to serve on a ship the size of the USS California as it was a huge battleship. The ship displaced 32,300 long tons, was 624 feet long, had 12 14-inch/50 caliber guns as well as 14 5-inch 51 caliber guns and carried a crew of over 1,000 men. This was more people than all of Browerville.

Seaman Bartylla was serving aboard the ship when it was hit by a kamikaze during the invasion of Lingayen Gulf in January 1945 – 44 men were killed and another 155 were injured during this attack. His ship went onto fight on Okinawa during the Battle of Okinawa. After the treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri (BB-63) at the end of the war, Bartylla took part in the occupation of Japan. Following his service aboard the USS California he transferred to the USS Denver (CL-58) where he served as a Yeoman 3rd Class performing administrative and clerical work while returning to the states through the Panama Canal. Bartylla was discharged from the Navy in Norfolk, Va. Following the war, Bartylla returned to Minnesota and worked in a number of jobs including farming with his father, construction, building bridges and automobile dealerships. Bartylla settled in Woodbury in 1956 in the town's first suburban housing development. He raised a family and enjoyed wood carving and collecting old die-cast cars. Bartylla is a vibrant, sharp man who is still active in his community, visiting friends and family in nursing homes.

John Pflugi was a born Oct. 8, 1927, in Proctor, Minn., where railroading for the nearby shops and ore classification yards of the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railroad is the main business. In the first half of the 1940s, the women and men working Minnesota’s Iron Range produced an astounding 338 million tons of iron ore, fueling the U.S. war effort in steel.

Pflugi was drafted into the Army in November 1945, and was a technician fifth grade and served as a radio operator in the Third Constabulary Regiment stationed in Wetzlar, Germany, during the occupation following the end of the war. After the war, there was extreme disorder. This required a highly mobile organization to serve as a multi-capable security force in occupied areas. Since standard infantry units lacked mobility, and military police units lacked the firepower to perform the many functions that would be required, new units were formed from armor and cavalry organizations to become the U.S. Constabulary.

Pflugi arrived in France after transiting the Atlantic on a troop ship to Le Havre, France. From France, he travelled by troop rail to Ansbach, Germany, where he attended radio operator training. From there he went to Wetzlar and was stationed at the Third Constabulary Regiment. Pflugi said that the thing he remembers most from his time in the service was the level of destruction in France and the total devastation in Germany. He remembers that while he was in France that he was dismayed by how the young children had so little. American soldiers gave food scraps to children so that they would have something to eat.

Upon his discharge he made the 13-day transit aboard a troop ship during the winter. This was an arduous journey through the rough North Sea before arriving in New York where he was discharged in March 1947.

Following the war, Pflugi returned to Proctor and took a number of different jobs and married his high school sweetheart in 1950. He briefly attended the University of Minnesota Duluth majoring in engineering before attending Coyne College in Chicago where he received a technical degree in electrical maintenance. Pflugi has had an illustrious and varied career working for UNISYS, several department stores in TV service and finally spending 35 years at 3M where he worked in Control Systems Engineering in the Abrasive Division. He and his wife had five children. Pflugi is still an active member in the Woodbury community with his family and grandchildren and still loves carving.

Henry Kolashinski was born April 2, 1925, in New Richmond, Wis. He was the eighth of nine children. Kolashinski's father passed away when he was only six. At that time his family moved to Hudson, Wis. Kolashinski was drafted the first time in June 1943, but failed the eye examine and was sent home. In November 1943, he was drafted a second time and this time the Army took him. He went through military police training at Fort Custer Training Center in Battle Creek, Mich. Following police and infantry training, Kolashinski was sent to Camp Beale, Calif., which served as a German prisoner of war facility. During this time, he served as a guard at the camp.

Following this assignment, Private Kolashinki was attached to the 506th Military Police Battalion and was sent to Camp Shanks, N.Y., where he embarked for Europe. Camp Shanks at that time was the largest World War II Army embarkation camp, processing 1.3 million service personnel. The 506th Military Pollice Battalion was attached at various times during the war to the 1st, 7th and 15th Armies.

Kolashinski remembers that on the trip overseas, that only the military police worked and that the food aboard ship was terrible. His unit went from Scotland to Hereford, England, and then onto Southhampton before boarding a ship to LeHavre, France. From LeHavre, Kolashinski went by 40-and-8 boxcar to Dinant, Belgium. The 40-and-8 was designed by the French for use during World War I to hold 40 men or eight horses. Kolashinski remembers thanking God that they didn’t have horses as the trip would have gotten very messy. While in Dinant, Kolashinski was sent to radio school to learn Morse code, a skill he never got the chance to use as the jeeps they had did not have radios. From here, his company was sent forward to Erkelenz, Germany, and attached to Gen. George Patton’s 7th Army where his company was responsible for traffic control on the roads in Erkelenz. By this time, the allies controlled Erkelenz but the area was still heavily mined. This led to the only casualty Kolashinski saw during the war, the motor pool sergeant who was killed when the jeep he was in backed over a mine. As the war in Europe wound down, Kolashinski was sent to France to return to the United States. At that time, they thought they would be deploying to the Pacific, but the war ended with Japan on the trip back to the United States.

Following the war, Kolashinski was assigned to what he called a “cushy” job in Camp McCoy, Wis., riding the trains from Mankato to Wisconsin, checking to see if servicemen had proper documentation to be on leave. Kolashinski said that the food on the train was good and they had good places to sleep in Mankato. He separated from the Army as Private 1st Class June 30, 1946, after almost two and a half years of service.

Following his time in the Army, Kolashinski returned to Hudson, Wis., and worked a number of odd jobs. His first job was with Anderson Windows in Bayport, followed by Seeger Refrigerator Company in St. Paul. From there he worked at Brown & Bigelow, one of the largest printers of calendars in the world. It was here that he met his wife and was married in September 1950. After being laid off from Brown & Bigelow, Kolashinski went to work for State Farm Insurance where he worked until his retirement in 1987. He moved to Woodbury in April 1969, and has lived in the same house since. He and his wife had two children and he has 10 great grandchildren. He is active in The American Legion, his church and continues to have lunch with friends.

What an honor to have so many active World War II veterans in Woodbury. Honor them by attending the 2019 Memorial Day observance 11 a.m. on Monday May 27 at the Woodbury Veterans Memorial.


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Did you know?

A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-2008) must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices.