Honoring and Remembering
VFW Calabash Post #7288 honors WWII veterans on National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.
By Frederick Walton
On Wednesday December 7, 2022, members and friends of VFW Calabash Post #7288 joined to honor their members who served in World War II and to remember those no longer with us. The annual affair, coincides with the Pearl Harbor anniversary, which has been designated by Congress as National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, a day to remember the sacrifices of our veterans on the day that President Franklin D. Roosevelt labeled as “a date which will live in infamy.”
In his remarks, VFW Post Commander James Milstead recalled, “Eighty-one years ago, on December 7, 1941, the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan awoke a sleeping giant, and with it, the will of the American people, producing what is called ‘America’s Greatest Generation.’” This unprovoked attack swept a generation of young men into a World War, many making the supreme sacrifice to preserve our nation’s freedoms.
Young Leo Jarmusz, now age 103, went into the U. S. Army in February of 1942 and served in the 3rd Armored Division. When asked to say a few words, he simply said, “My brothers and I were drafted and we served,” and with a shrug he humbly concluded, “and we came home safe and lived our lives.”
Jarmusz served with a unit that went to Omaha Beach on June 23, 1944. “I was not on the front lines, I was in maintenance for a tank unit, but I was close enough,” he said. He served through October of 1945.
Commander Milstead lamented that so many of the veterans have passed in recent years. “We used to host dozens of World War II veterans, but this year only two members are still living and one of them, Hal Riebesehl (97), is in the hospital recovering from a recent stroke,” he said. Riebesehl joined the U.S. Navy in 1943 and served until March 1946.
Commander Milstead has been working on updating the post’s records, correcting addresses, phone numbers and health statuses, but in some cases the members are hard to track down. Family members of surviving World War II post members can contact the post to update this information.
Commander Milstead presented Jarmusz with a WWII Victory coin recognizing his honorable service and a gift certificate from the post. He delivered the same to Riebesehl the following day.
According to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 16 million Americans served in World War II. Only about 175,000 are estimated to survive in 2022. Yielding to the unstoppable process of aging, the men and women who fought and won the great conflict are now in their 90s or older and vanishing rapidly with each passing year. The Calabash VFW Post 7288 will continue to care for our aging veterans and will keep them alive in memory when they are gone.