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American Legion commander presidents over 'Living HIstory' about warriors - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

American Legion commander presidents over 'Living HIstory' about warriors

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Posted: Thursday, November 25, 2010 12:00 am

On Nov. 15 and 16, the Ocean City Free Public Library presented a special “Living History” program in the lecture hall. The program was attended by veterans of all American wars and those interested in learning the history of our warriors.

The program was introduced and presided over by James Houlk, Commander of Ocean City’s American Legion Post. Veterans of World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War, Gulf War, Desert Storm and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan attended.

Representatives who had served in each of the battles spoke eloquently about their experiences in each war. Perhaps the word “survivor” would serve to describe the men and women as well as the word veteran would.

The veterans of World War II are diminishing in number as they grow older, and World War I veterans are almost all gone. The World War II veteran spoke of the Battle of the Bulge, which was fought in a blizzard and was largely a tank battle that is unfamiliar to the present generation but deserves to be remembered.

Stories of the danger and deprivation of the Korean engagement were also described vividly and were reminiscent of the “M.A.S.H.” program on television. In the midst of the menace and misery of war, there seemed to be the saving grace of humor.

The Vietnam War was remembered as an unpopular war that didn’t receive public support and inspired protests and ill treatment of the military, whether deserved or not. On the other hand, the Gulf War – known as Desert Storm – when the United States went to the rescue of Kuwait, was more widely supported.

The still ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were spoken of by a present day warrior who flew combat planes in them.

Most of the older vets told how they volunteered while others were drafted for service but all performed admirably, even if their service was reluctant. Commander Houlk spoke knowledgably about each of the wars and how organizations like the USO helped relieve some of the burden suffered by the servicemen. He said that TV game show host Pat Sajak served two tours of duty in Vietnam. Colonel Howard Benge, formerly of Ocean City, was serving at Pearl Harbor and became a very fine wood sculptor who carved huge replicas of the Sindia figurehead for the Ocean City Historical Museum. Another active military member, known simply as Rocky, told of how she volunteered as an Army nurse after September 11 and is about to be promoted to the rank of Major.

An array of easels held still photographs, while maps and accounts of war actions were displayed at the front of the lecture hall. The program was instructive, informative and entertaining, and was well received.

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