2 veterans bring history to life
TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Veterans John Scott (left) and Grant Lee (right) share their wartime experiences with the public at a special Veterans Day event held Thursday at the Palmerton VFW.
Bring history to life.
That's exactly what two veterans, whose wartime experiences appear in books, did on Veterans Day.
Grant Lee of Enola, and John Scott of Mechanicsburg, spoke of their experiences Thursday at the Palmerton VFW.
Their stories appear in the books "World War II: In Their Own Words," and "World War II Reflections."
The event was presented by Blue Ridge Communications and the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN).
Michelle Harter, director of Corporate Communications for the Pennsylvania Cable Network, gave the introduction.
"What started out as a Memorial Day television program in 2002 has grown near and dear to the hearts of all of us who have worked in some capacity on the World War II: In Their Own Words Project," Harter said. "Our award-winning series has gained national recognition, as well."
Harter said that PCN has become one of the largest contributors to the Library of Congress, and has donated 110 interviews to the National Veterans' Project for Historic Preservation and Educational use.
In addition, she said that to date, PCN has collected nearly 300 discussions from Pennsylvania veterans in all branches of service, and is currently working on the final round of interviews to conclude this series.
Julianne Farina, marketing/public relations coordinator, Blue Ridge Communications, who helped to coordinate the event, said that "Americans live in freedom because of our veterans."
"Veterans Day is a day we honor those brave men and woman who defended our nation," Farina said. "It's very important to never forget."
Farina said that Blue Ridge Communications "plays a substantial role in the communities we serve," and added "it has been an honor to have the opportunity to work with PCN on such a wonderful Veterans Day event.
"With PCN, we are able to bring history to life and enrich the lives of others," Farina said. "We hope through this event and others like this, to reach people and show them the importance of keeping history alive."
Local musician Nicole Donatone sang a rendition of the national anthem.
Lucille Rex, who represented the Ladies Auxiliary of the R.W. Fritzinger VFW Post 7215, Walnutport, read a Veterans Day poem tribute entitled "I Am a Veteran," by Andrea C. Brett.
Lee and Scott then gave formal presentations. Edward Kyler of Camp Hill, was scheduled to be on hand, but was unable to attend due to illness. Kyler, who joined the army on his 18th birthday, was a paratrooper and a member of the 101st Airborne Division.
Lee was a gunner on a LST, transported men and supplies for the D-Day invasion, and also served in the invasion of Okinawa.
Lee recounted an instance where he arm-wrestled a Japanese sergeant who was much larger than he.
"I got him on the first one, and the Japanese sailors were rooting for me," Lee said. "The second time he got me; the third time I got him, and you couldn't hear yourself thinking."
Scott was a bombardier in a B-24 who flew 51 missions and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross.
As he reflected on his experiences, Scott said he realizes how fortunate he is to be alive.
"I was very lucky; I just can't explain to you," Scott said. "How I made it, I don't know. It must be the dumb luck of an Irishman, I guess."
Afterward, a question-and-answer session was conducted with citizens who attended.
Janet Conner of Weissport asked the veterans if there was anything citizens can do to help our soldiers right now.
"I just want to say thank you so much," Conner said. "You mean so much."
Sarina Berlow of Palmerton thanked the veterans for their service. She then asked whether they were aware of the concentration camps that Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Gerhad many throughout World War II.
"I didn't hear too much until I came home," Lee said. "We knew what was happening, but we didn't care because we couldn't help them."
Ryan Connors, 9, of Kunkletown, asked the veterans what kind of guns they used.
Duane Frable of Palmerton asked whether all the individuals were trained as paratroopers.
The question and answer session was followed by a book signing. Light refreshments were also served.
Both "World War II: In Their Own Words" and "World War II Reflections" are collections of interviews with Pennsylvania World War II veterans from all branches of the service.
The books are based on the award-winning television series on PCN titled "World War II: In Their Own Words" that consisted of more than 200 hours of discussions with veterans from all branches of the armed services.
They are also available as audio book versions with 10 CDs containing nearly 10 hours of discussions with veterans in their own voices.
For more information, or to hear a sample chapter from one of the books, visit the PCN website at www.pcntv.com.