NEW HAVEN — It is a generation of soldiers that will all too soon be only memories – those who fought in World War II.
Three service men from that war were honored Wednesday evening at a Veterans Day ceremony held in New Haven.
New Haven residents William “Bill” Gibbs and Samuel Halstead, both 90 years old, and Milford Mowrey of Mason, who is 89, were honored and presented encased American Flags during the ceremony, which took place at the veterans memorial next to the fire station. Making the presentations were Ken Vickers, New Haven council member, and Ray Varian, Mason council member.
The ceremony was hosted by the Smith-Capehart American Legion Post 140 of New Haven, the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 of Mason, and the towns of New Haven and Mason. John Hood, commander of American Legion Post 39 of Pomeroy, OH was the keynote speaker, and told the crowd why it is important to keep honoring our veterans.
Members of the New Haven Elementary School Choir, under the direction of Kim Bond, presented two songs, and Ray Varian, V.F.W. member, conducted the P.O.W./M.I.A. ceremony. Dave Sigman, commander of the local American Legion, led the ceremony. The opening prayer was given by Rev. Neil Cadle.
While the three men who were honored during the evening all went to service at early ages, their stories varied greatly.
Gibbs served in the Navy from 1943-1946 after joining at the age of 18. He served in some significant stations, including NTS Great Lakes, IL; AG School, Gulfport, MS; The SS Ticonderoga; The MS Talisse; and The USS Saipan CVL-48. Gibbs received several awards, including the American Campaign Medal; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal; Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal; and Good Conduct Medal.
After his service, Gibbs remained active in American Legion Post 140, serving as vice commander and commander of the 4th District, WV.
Halstead also entered the service at 18 and was a member of the 142d infantry, company A, 36th infantry division, which was also known as the “fighting thirty six.” When he reported to basic training, Halstead’s superiors told him that he and his fellow soldiers were specifically being trained to fight the Germans.
He was sent to France, where he spent his 19th birthday on the front lines of the Battle of the Bulge, and was later wounded when shot by a German sniper. Halstead was awarded the Purple Heart, along with the Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Bronze Star Attachment (Single), World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantry Badge 1st Award, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, and the Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar.
Halstead had three brothers in WWII, Eugene, Herman, and James. His son, Eddie, served in the Navy during Vietnam, and granddaughter, Shonna, served with the National Guard in Afghanistan.
Mowrey, who also joined the military at the age of 18, served in the Navy aboard The USS Vogelgesang (DD862). He was a radio man who translated code.
Following his two years of service, he attended Ohio University and studied accounting. Mowrey worked in coal mines in Prestonburg, Ky., and later at the Philip Sporn Plant, where he worked in the lab and instruments section.
Mowrey remains active in the local Veterans of Foreign War, presently serving as commander of the Stewart-Johnson V.F.W. Post 9926 of Mason.
The ceremony was organized by New Haven Recorder Roberta Hysell, who also thanked the members of the New Haven Fire Department for their assistance in preparing for the ceremony.
A separate service honoring veterans was held Tuesday evening at New Haven Elementary School. Following a free spaghetti dinner for veterans and their families, the school choir presented a program titled, “Celebrating the Brave.”
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing and lives in Mason County.