Photo by Ruth Heide
Colton Shawcroft, right, reads a biography he has written of his great-grandfather Isaac Martinez, a veteran of the Normandy invasion during World War II. Both are from Monte Vista.
MONTE VISTA — Teenagers about the same age as many of those who entered World War II more than 60 years ago introduced local veterans of that war during a special ceremony hosted by the Monte Vista Rotary Club on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
Sargent FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America ) Club members had interviewed many local veterans and shared some of those stories during the Nov. 13 event, held just two days after Veterans Day.
FBLA Advisor Sharon Adams said this was a rewarding learning experience for the youth.
For the second year, the Monte Vista Rotary Club hosted a meal in honor of local veterans and introduced each of the WW II veterans who were able to attend.
“This day is for you. It is our honor for you to be here,” said Rotarian John Plane.
Rotarian Gene Farish offered a prayer honoring WW II veterans, as well as those who have served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the undeclared wars, as well as those who have helped maintain peace around the world.
“We acknowledge those in the Valley who have lost a favorite son or cherished daughter in our small community and even in this club,” Farish added.
Rotarian Jim Lancaster talked about the fearful war young people faced when they enlisted in World War II.
He said from the present generation’s perspective of the six decades removed, “we already know that the good guys won, we already know how it turned out,” but at the time these young men and women signed up, that outcome was less certain. Nazi Germany had rolled through Europe in 21 days, with Hitler marching into downtown Paris, France, and Great Britain under attack.
The young people who signed up or were drafted into WW II knew about war, Lancaster added, because many of their parents had fought in World War I. They did not go into war blindly.
“It wasn’t a light thing to sign up for the military. They knew what war was,” Lancaster said.
Yet these young people suspended the plans they had for their lives and went to serve their country, he added.
“It’s important that we try to get into their shoes and their skin and remember what that must have been like,” Lancaster said.
Before the Sargent FBLA members introduced the veterans they had interviewed, Colton Shawcroft introduced his great grandfather, World War II veteran Isaac “Ike” Martinez, 88, who was twice wounded in battle as he served in the U.S. Army and returned with such honors as the Purple Heart. He later also served in the National Guard and worked for 30 years at the Monte Vista Safeway.
After returning from WW II he married Viola, who passed away in 2010, and they had three sons and a daughter. One of their sons died as an infant, and their grandson, Glen Martinez died in 2008 in Iraq where he was serving with the U.S. Marines.
FBLA students then introduced or acknowledged (if the veterans were unable to attend) WW II veterans: Charles Elliott; Fred Olme; Richard Gottlieb; Travis Seyfried; Eunice and Kenny Burk; Robert Hanna; Jake Foreman; Carl Taylor; Ted Wiswell; Dave Huser; Maurice Stillings; Kenneth Metz; Al Lockhart; Bill Pryor; Ralph Outcalt; Warren Deacon; Roger Mitchell and David Parker.
Local WW II veterans lost in the last year were Curtis Nelson, Bill Lambert and Charles Gammill.
FBLA members were Austin Babcock; Jessica Crowther; Chris Garcia; Sami Johnson;
Kaylie Kenison; Kaitlin Lowder; Chance Padilla; Nate Ramirez and Tai Zollars .
They shared highlights from their interviews with the World War II veterans such as the veterans' favorite memories including the camaraderie they shared and lifelong friendships they made and their exhilaration at the war's end. They also shared some of their suffering from physical wounds to separation from family. One veteran had just gotten married the day before he left for service, for example. The veterans served in various ways from gunner to medic and mechanic to fireman, and they served in all branches from Navy and Marines to Army and Air Force. Some were drafted. Others enlisted. Many of them were decorated from their military service. They served from Italy to the Azores.
Veteran Al Lockhart shared more of the details from his service as a teenager fresh from the San Luis Valley to service miles away in San Diego where he helped decommission ships in the Navy.
As soon as he was 17 he joined the Navy, he recalled, and although he had not finished high school when one of his teachers heard he had typed 225 words per minute during a military test she helped him get his diploma. The typing test had been one phrase over and over, «Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country «»
Lockhart recalled when the war ended he had to help dispose of typewriters, filing cabinets and other office equipment that was dumped into the ocean.
He also had to help dispose of 60 Jeeps, which were dumped 50 miles out. When he asked to take one of the Jeeps he was told the influx of military equipment into the economy would ruin it.
He tried to argue the point but was unsuccessful.
"I didn›t get a Jeep."