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World War II veterans mark 70th Anniversary of D-Day

World War II veterans, seated, listen to opening remarks at D-Day 70th Anniversary Ceremonies at Ocean View VFW Post 7234.  After what they had been through, the threat of rain didn't deter them. SOURCE SUBMITTED
July 27, 2014

Almost 20 World War II veterans gathered under threatening skies at the Mason-Dixon VFW Post 7234 July 20, as they attended a ceremony commemorating the 70th Anniversary of D-Day and signed a jeep that was there during that battle. Among them were two veterans from Rehoboth VFW Post 7447, John Gunkel and Jack Ward. As with many veterans of that era who are able, they both continue to serve others and perform regularly with the VFW District 4 Honor Guard, providing honors for fellow veterans at their funeral committal services throughout Sussex County.

After a welcome by Post Commander Fulton Loppatto, the World War II veterans, despite many with canes and walkers, stood at attention as they recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and sang loudly and proudly as VFW Ladies Auxiliary soloist Jennifer Carter led the group in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."  Each of the WW II veterans was introduced and stood to receive rousing applause by the attendees. Guest speakers included representatives from Hogs and Heroes Foundation, whose motorcycles and their proud riders provided an escort to the D-Day jeep and who were instrumental in this event.

Flags of every size were everywhere. In fact, everyone attending received a small flag with their program, provided by Mason Dixon VFW Post 7234 which hosted this event. Several presentations were made, including a flag that flew over the Capitol, and citations from the Delaware Senate and House of Representatives were read by their local originators, Sen. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, and Rep. Ron Gray, R-Selbyville. The Mason Dixon VFW Post 7234 Honor Guard fired volleys to honor these brave men, and the program concluded with Jennifer Carter leading the group in "God Bless America." Then each of those brave veterans signed a mortar box on the restored jeep that was on the beach during the D-Day invasion.

An outstanding buffet breakfast, free for these veterans, was provided by VFW Post 7234. Special seating was arranged for this notable group, allowing them time to share some of their personal stories if they wished. One told of digging foxholes through snow into frozen ground in France and Germany. Another told of meeting his cousin he hadn't seen in several years, with each fighting for his country.