The Daughters of the American Revolution, Refugio del Cielo chapter, honored seven local veterans on Saturday, Sept. 19, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Chapter members, along with representatives from the Santa Ynez Valley’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7139, gathered at Jim Kunkle’s Santa Ynez Valley Airport hangar to honor and thank the veterans.
Certificates were presented to Kunkle, U.S. Army Air Forces; Edward J. Jorgensen, U.S. Navy; Rutledge A. Mills, U.S. Army; William S. Hardy, U.S. Navy; Dwight B. Watts, U.S. Navy; James C. Axtell, U.S. Army Air Forces; and Albert J. Ramirez, U.S. Navy.
Post Cmdr. Alvin Salge and Daughters of the American Revolution Regent Velma Wortner introduced each veteran, thanked them for their service, presented certificates and, adding a sweet treat, gave each a box of red-, white- and blue-sprinkled cupcakes.
Following the day’s ceremony, a convoy of flag-decorated vehicles, led by Axtell’s 1946 Army Jeep, visited two veterans who were unable to attend. Robert “Bob” Herdman, U.S. Army, and William “Ken” Palmer, U.S. Navy, received thank yous, certificates and cupcakes at home.
Hangar host Kunkle was rescued by U.S. ground troops when his plane was shot down during World War II. The injuries he sustained necessitated a trip home aboard a hospital ship with many other injured service members.
“I was the only patient on board who was ambulatory and got to walk around on the ship for the five-day trip back to the U.S.,” Kunkle recounted.
With the death of Hitler, and the Allies and the Soviet Union having invaded Berlin, the Germans unconditionally surrendered on May 8, 1945.
Just a little over three months later, victory over Japan (V-J Day) was declared on Aug. 15, following Japan’s surrender.
We now celebrate the ending of the war on Sept. 2, the date Japan agreed to the terms and signed the treaty of surrender aboard the battleship U.S.S Missouri in Tokyo Bay.
World War II lasted six years and one day, but the courage and dedication of the men and women of the military live on the memories of those who served and in the heart of a grateful nation.
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