WWII Reunion / Education Night:
History came to life when three area WWII Veterans joined us to share their stories of service.
George Stanek of Augusta served with the US Marines, Company A, manning Bazookas, Flamethrowers and being involved with demolition. He fought in the Battle of Okinawa. George remembers the first nine days being ok, not much happening. On the tenth day things changed; they would move from one hill top to the next every day, as they were going through a valley on their way up another hill they encountered heavy enemy fire and lost a lot of men.
On April 18th, Ernie Piles a reporter came out to report on Company A and get some action shots. He accompanied George on a mission to clear out caves; he was shot in the head and killed by enemy fire.
They always seemed to have mortars dropped between 2 & 3 am. On April 19th or 20th was hit in the stomach with a 5 inch long ¾ inch thick piece of shrapnel. He was supposed to be on lite duty for 10 days but was sent back to the lines the next day.
They endured 10 days and nights of constant rain, that ended up being a blessing in disguise. On May 8th, George’s 20th Birthday, after the rains had finally quit; they were able to dry off a bit and were sitting around a napalm can heating up some food when all of a sudden it exploded. Directly under the napalm can was a gallon sized booby trap that had been set off by a fellow soldier picking up a piece of string. George and a few other men received burns but no one was killed. Had it not been for all the rain soaking the gun powder 35-40 men would have most likely been killed.
On June 21st as they were preparing to take the last stronghold with only 55 of the original 252 men, General Buckner came up to the lines to speak to the men. George seen movement about a half a mile away and yelled for them to move that jeep as he figured they were the target. Before they could start and move the jeep a round hit under the jeep and blew it straight up in the air, a second round made a direct hit. George says “This is how General Buckner was killed, I know, I stood right there and watched it happen”.
Homer Stark from Sparta was a cook, and served during WWII, Korea and Vietnam.
Raymond “Ray” Lowe of Trempealeau was in the Tank Battalion, serving in England, France and Germany and also in the Battle of the Bulge. Ray served a total of 30 years.
Gaylord Olson was here to talk with the veterans and make sure they had all had the chance to go on the Honor Flight to Washington DC. All three have made the trip.