Caryn Haller

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November 9, 2012
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Camaraderie in service

Black-and-white photo albums, letters from home, plaques and memorabilia filled a table at the Douglas County Senior Center on Friday.

The mementos told the stories of the men and women who served in the military, and who were honored during the center's annual USO Veterans Day Celebration.

"Most of my pictures were from Korea, Okinawa and Japan," said Fran Burger, a 79-year-old Army and Air Force veteran of his photo album. "I had a good time. At the time, I didn't think so, but looking back on it I did."

Prior to the celebration, retired and active duty service men and women swapped stories and reminisced about how it used to be, and how good they have it now.

"It's nice to meet people from different eras of military, and different wars and conflicts," Army National Guard Specialist Joe Lash said. "It's special to me. It's part of why I joined, for the comaraderie. The other part is I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself."

Johnson Lane resident Jack Delaney, 78, looked sharp in his Navy dress uniform complete with eight rows of ribbons chronicling 20 years of service.

"This uniform is 45 years old," he said.

He met his wife Marjorie, who was also serving as a nurse in the Navy, in 1956 at a Naval hospital in Yokosuka, Japan. They were married two years later.

"It was a real no-no. She was a commissioned officer and I was a second class corpsman," Jack said. "We had to get permission from my commanding officer and the chief nurse. They both came to the wedding."

Marjorie served from 1953 until 1962 when she became pregnant with their first child.

Gardnerville resident Al Walker, 69, also wore his dress white uniform with pride.

Walker served as a Navy pilot with the VAW 113 squadron also known as the Black Eagles.

He retired in 1981 as a lieutenant commader after 20 years of service.

"I loved it. It was fun. Every person should be required to serve in some form," he said. "I'm proud of it. I had a really enjoyable career."

Alice Lamb, 80, said she enjoyed helping veterans because it made her feel closer to her husband, Lawrence, who died four years ago.

The couple was active with the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

"He was so for this country. He would help everybody, and I wanted to come here for his memory. He was a Pearl Harbor survivor, and he fought in four wars," Lamb said. "I feel I'm close to my husband by serving veterans. It's the least I can do."

Carson Valley VFW Post 8583 Commander Ron Garside led the presentation of the colors at Friday's celebration.

The Gardnerville resident served two tours in Vietnam during his 5-year Army career.

"I was wounded five times. I have five Purple Hearts, and I'm still standing," the 64-year-old said. "Veterans Day is when everybody who spent time in the service gets some recognition, and it gives us a chance to give thanks for the veterans who gave their lives."

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The Record Courier Updated Nov 9, 2012 07:24PM Published Nov 9, 2012 07:22PM Copyright 2012 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.