In one of the first organized events since the COVID-19 shutdown, Milford resident and Korean War veteran Charles Garrod, 86, was recognized on Flag Day, June 14, at Patriot Auto and Truck Care in Dover.
The auto shop is owned by Navy veteran Doug DeAngelis and his wife Kathy, a retired nurse. Social distancing was maintained by spaced chairs.
The Korean War began 70 years ago, on June 25, 1950. DeAngelis heard of Garrod’s national effort to encourage elected leaders to acknowledge what would likely be the last time the war’s 85- to 90-year-old veterans could be honored, and decided to host an outdoor ceremony in front of the garage to allow for social distancing.
"This was our way of acknowledging his efforts to bring attention to a disappearing generation of veterans," said DeAngelis. Also attending were members of the Dover-area Patriot Warriors MC Club, who helped set up the event.
Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen and Milford Mayor Arthur Campbell brought tributes from their towns, while Larence Kirby presented a coin on behalf of the Delaware Commission of Veteran Services.
Maj. Gen. Michael Berry, adjutant general of the Delaware National Guard, congratulated Garrod on his work to highlight his fellow veterans. He was accompanied by his wife, Brig. Gen. Karen Berry, assistant adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard.
Paul Davis, president of the Delaware State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, thanked Garrod and his fellow veterans for their service to country in the so-called Forgotten War. “It's our way of affirming the VVA's national slogan of 'Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,'" said Davis.
In his address, Garrod thanked the participants for honoring forgotten veterans across the globe and said he’s requested proclamations by all 50 state governors and received responses from more than half. He’s also been assured of a proclamation from Gov. John Carney and all three of Delaware’s county executives. After speaking, Garrod was presented with a cased flag by Kathy and Doug DeAngelis in addition to a Patriot Auto & Truck Care T-shirt. The business provides services to all makes, models and years of vehicles and offers discounts to veterans and first responders.
The Rev. Dr. John Riley, a retired Air Force veteran, delivered the opening and closing prayers.
After the event, a sheet cake dedicated to the 245th Army birthday was cut by Garrod and Maj. Gen. Berry with his ceremonial sword. Hamburgers, beans and hotdogs were then served to the audience.
Garrod's efforts to acknowledge his fellow veterans began with a 2008 visit to South Korea, whose citizens and leaders hold them in high regard. Considering most are between their late 80s and 90s, the 70th anniversary may be the last chance to acknowledge the millions who served and the 37,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives for another nation's freedom.
He has written to every state governor requesting a proclamation for what has been called The Forgotten War, the first armed pushback against communism after World War II. Some 22 governors responded, including some who advised that such requests must be initiated by residents of their states. That hasn't stopped Garrod from using the internet to reach out across the nation and beyond. His Facebook page has more than 3,600 followers, but many of his generation aren't online. His efforts have been acknowledged in the Korean War Veterans Association magazine.
Garrod will accept a Kent County proclamation declaring June 25 as Korean War Remembrance Day. Sussex County has also sent him a proclamation.