Fallbrook should be so proud! Silvergate Retirement Residence veterans are being honored for their service to our country this past Thanksgiving and Veterans Day holidays. Initiated by their activities director, Lynne Leonard, a “Veterans Hall of Fame” room was set up at Silvergate. The public is invited to see and meet these local living legends – male and female veterans dating back to the WWII era – at a social on Friday, Nov. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Silvergate, 420 Elbrook Dr. in Fallbrook.
Leonard is from a long line of veterans – her grandfather, father, husband, uncles and brother all served proudly in the United States Armed Forces. Sensitive to her own family’s military heritage, Leonard started a tradition at Silvergate to honor the service of her retired residents’ service.
Who would know that in our own “backyard” we have the following living legends with their own stories to tell our children and inspire all of us to greater awareness of the sacrifices that freedom requires.
We have Jim Beeby, an Air Force bombardier who flew B-26s in WWII. They called his aircraft, “the widow maker” because so many of the aircraft crashed before take-off due to the 4,000 lbs. of bombs they were carrying. Beeby remembers flying over Africa, Italy, France and Germany during the war. He was only 21 when he enlisted but he eventually was awarded the Purple Heart after being shot down and landing in the Mediterranean Sea. All he remembers after this exploit was being picked up by an English PT boat crew who gave him a strong shot of booze to help him warm up and four hours later he got right back into his airplane to drop bombs on his original target (German bridges and ammunition sites). His last three missions were conducted at the Battle of the Bulge, which helped end the war in Europe.
We also have Dwaine R. Lewis who served in three different branches of the Army but ended up in the 65th Field Hospital unit– the original MASH field unit hospital (constantly moving to keep up with war time injuries). Corporal Lewis’s job was to keep the electricity running in the field hospitals so that surgeries to save many lives could be performed. He remembers the Normandy Beach landing – only four months after D-Day he arrived to hike up the steep embankment, except for him, it was without enemy fire. When he reached the top, he saw a field of crosses for those who went before him but did not come home to the wave of grateful flags. Corporal Lewis reflected soberly on how his own life was spared since he did not have to climb that epic wall while enemy bullets surrounded him.
We also have Rusty Rush, a Navy Radar Operator who served in the Korean Conflict onboard the USS Valley Forge (CVA-45) and can tell you all about the “Exposure Suits” they needed to wear to survive the harsh winter waters. In his own words, “I was scared the whole damn time!” Why? Well, if he landed in the 32 degree waters off Korea, he had 20-seconds to survive or, 50-seconds if he had his exposure suit on. Rush also reminisced about his “Harry Truman Year” in the Navy that kept him from marrying his hometown sweetheart. To hear this story, come to the Silvergate Social to meet him in person.
We also have Navy WAVE, Marcy Shipton, one of the first 100 WAVES who “kept ‘em flying” by serving as a specialist aerographer at a Naval Air Station in Michigan. We have Ruby Ginther, another Navy WAVE who marched in the 1944 NYC Thanksgiving Day Parade to showcase women from her Naval boot camp. These women have courageous tales to tell the public about their WWII military service.
We have LT John Krenz who helmed the USS Hatfield Navy cruiser to patrol the waters form Seattle to Alaska to keep the Chinese at bay during WWII. Krenz coincidentally had the most romantic of war time stories to tell – he married the Marine Sergeant of his dreams only 17 days after meeting her in 1944 – their marriage lasted over 60 years!
Some of the other heroes you will want to hear from are: Staff Sergeant Lowell Reed, U.S. Air Corp who served from 1941 to 1945. You can hear about Lowell’s famous Operations Officer of the 453rd Bomb Group, Colonel Jimmy Stewart. Another Air Corpsman is Captain Donald Cramer who served in the 11th Airborne Division in 1945 and specialized in electronic maintenance, leading him to become a pilot following the war. And who wouldn’t want to hear the “Cold War” stories of Army 2nd Class Bob Sutherland who served in the Air Force in Goose Bay, Labrador, Alaska – 700 miles south of the North Pole from 1961-67, monitoring “Distance Early Warning” radar sites in Canada and Alaska!
These local living legends along with many more of their fellow veteran residents live among us in Fallbrook! The public is invited to meet and greet these local heroes and heroines at the social on Friday, Nov. 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. Treat yourself to real life war stories while you meet, greet and say Thank You to these wonderful veterans who live at Silvergate Retirement Residence and helped keep America free.