MEMORIAL DAY 2017
The traditional Memorial Day date was May 30th but Congress made the date (the last Monday in May) into a three-day weekend with the National Holiday Act of 1971, and in 2017 the day of observance is May 29th. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation’s service.
This year the CUC Class again remembers members of our family, or extended family, who died in our nation’s service, no matter how long ago: brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, ancestors, etc. If you are new to our class and have family members who should be included, please send me their information and I’ll add them to this list. Please send me their name, rank, branch of service, relation to you and their death information to add to our annual remembrance, and let us honor their memory.
Several local communities have Memorial Day celebrations including Roswell, Milton, Marietta and others. Come celebrate this day of remembrance with others in your community.
My uncle, Frank Westhoff, died during the Battle of the Bulge, I believe, in ’44 or ’45. Army infantry.
My uncle, Eustice Williams, (my Dad’s brother) died in the Pacific during WWII. He was captured by the Japanese and was forced to take part in the “Bataan Death March” in the Philippines on the west side of Manila Bay. He was a member of the US Air Force and later died in a POW camp.
His remains were discovered several years after the war ended and returned to the family for burial in his hometown of Starkville, MS.
My father, Major Johnie J. Wright, Jr. (I’m the III), 37, died in Vietnam in late February 1967. I was a senior in high school, 17 years old. My father was in the Army, he was an army aviator, flying Mohawks (OV-1).
Here is the info on my Dad. He was commissioned in the Army as an Infantry Officer in 1933. He came on Active Duty in March 1941 as a 1/Lt. He fought in Europe and was with the 99th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. There he received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. He retired in 1965 as a Major and died in September 1998.
I would like to honor my cousin, Clifford Henry Petz. Clifford served under Gen. George S. Patton in the 3rd Army and was killed in December, 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. He is buried in the American cemetery in Luxembourg. For those that may not have visited the cemetery, in the front as you enter, there is Patton’s grave/monument and he faces his men. Clifford’s grave is about four down from the center in the first row. We were surprised how easily we found it. About 1-k down the road is a German cemetery. The atmosphere is so stark compared to the American cemetery. The only recognition of who is buried there is a book with the names of the soldiers. Imagine my astonishment when I opened the book and there was a German soldier with the last name of “Paetz” — the original spelling of the family name. I wish I had taken a picture, or at least copied down his first name, but didn’t think of it at the time. Someday, and soon, I hope to go back and visit both cemeteries again — especially in honor of Clifford.
Captain Paul Joyslin, a pilot in the 9th Air Force. Received the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters in the invasion of Normandy. Killed in action September 27, 1944, during the invasion of Holland (A Bridge Too Far) age 25. Left a wife and son. Paul was my first cousin.
Sergeant Donald Harstad, a gunner on a B-17 in the pacific. Donald was killed in action October 25, 1944, which would have been his last mission. Donald was 22 and married. Donald, also a first cousin, died just a month after our cousin Paul. This was a difficult time for our family. We also lost 5 boys who lived in our neighborhood (2 on our street) in WWII.
Robert’s uncle, Wordie Leckie, Folkston , Georgia, was killed in the spring of 1943,World War II. He lost his life in the crash of a bomber at a Canadian Air Base in England. He was Sgt.-Gunner Wordie Leckie, a young man who because of his asthma was deferred by the U. S. Military. He wanted so badly to defend his country that he joined the Canadian Royal Air Force and served in the exposed position of top gunner. Leckie and his eight crew members were killed over England and is buried in England. Lynda
My uncle, Lt.Col William L. Cook, U S Air Force, WWII, Korea, and 2 tours Vietnam succumbing to agent orange 5-07-2001 buried in Arlington Cemetery.
Thank you, Jan
“Lest we forget.”
On Memorial Day we honor the memory of our forebears, family members, friends, and comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and in defense of freedom.
We fly the flag with pride (properly at half-mast until noon). We seek out current members of the Armed Forces and Veterans, to shake their hands and thank them for their service. We visit civilian and military cemeteries and decorate graves with miniature US Flags. We linger a while in respectful silence, and contemplate the deeds of brave men and women in earlier and current wars and conflicts in far-flung corners of the globe. We take a moment to thank God for liberty and democracy in these United States of America and for our way of life that is sometimes taken for granted.
And finally, we pray that this and future generations will never forget our proud heritage, or allow our legacy to be taken away from us due to ignorance or indifference …
David “Mac” McLay
US Air Force 19601964