Follow by Email

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fond Memories of Veterans Week

Another Veterans Week has come and gone in Branson but the friends we make and memories we share live on throughout the year.

Roy Lee, a WWII veteran who entered the Merchant Marines at the age of 13, and the Navy at 14, comes with his wife, Linda, and sister-in-law, Judy, every year. Amidst stories of the Aleutian Islands and dinners of gumbo or red beans and rice, the good times flow. After the war, Roy performed with the Louisiana Hayride and hung out with Elvis Presley, Hank Williams and many others. His vivid memory gives us a picture of the music scene when many great performers were starting out.

Joe Bryant and the members of the Harry S Truman chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association welcomed many of their fellow veterans for their well-attended mini-reunion. Denzil Batson, author of Korea: We Called It War, attended the reunion. He spent several days signing his book at my booth and at the Veterans Museum. I missed Ralph Schrader, Billy Joe Harris and the Sunchon Tunnel survivors this year.

Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors is always the book (of ours) that attracts the most attention. The survivors have endeared themselves in the hearts of their fellow veterans.

Speaking of endearing, Eddie Beesley always takes Branson by storm. Whether he's jammin' at the Day Room, belting out a song, showing off his new Ibot chair, carrying the sword for the Marine Birthday Ball, or just charming folks he meets, Eddie's smile draws people like flies to a picnic. As always, Connie is his number one fan.

Marlyce Stockinger hosted another wonderful Marine Birthday Ball. Her son-in-law, a veteran, drove ten hours to escort her to the ball. Marlyce was a happy camper! November 12, she started a new adventure - she adopted a little white ball of fluff - Zoee, a bichon puppy. She's taking the first step of a long love affair. Check out Zoee's FB page, According to Zoee.

Chuck and Mary Schantag hosted their Military Gala. I'm sorry I missed it this year. Chip and Sandy Milner, who have taken the Day Room to the heights of popularity, received a well-deserved award. Congratulations to both of you.

I loved seeing old friends and making new ones. Betty Carroll brought 92-year-old June Schwantes, a WWII veteran, who served on a hospital ship in the Pacific, to the Women Veterans Mini-reunion, the parade and the Tony Orlando Show. What an honor to meet June!

An unexpected highlight capped off the week. Harvey Bayless and George Boyd, WWII Tuskegee Airmen, attended the Tony Orlando Show where Tony showed the preview to the new George Lucas film, Red Tails. This story of the Tuskegee Airmen is scheduled for theater release in January 2012.

I hadn't seen Harvey and his wife Mamie for a couple of years. They were close friends to Jim and Florence Kuhn. Florence and her fellow band members are featured in my book, The Sharon Rogers Band: Laughed Together, Cried Together, Crashed & Almost Died Together. Harvey, Mamie and I enjoyed sharing a few moments of our memories of the Kuhns.

George Boyd spoke at our Veterans Week event in 2007 and attended the launch of the Sunchon Tunnel Massacre Survivors. I feel honored to know George and Harvey. They gave so much to their country in a time when they constantly had to prove themselves. Today amidst the well-deserved recognition they receive, they both take pride in their accomplishments yet remain humble and friendly.

Branson is an awesome place to spend Veterans Week!

No comments:

Post a Comment