Thursday, December 9, 2004
The Mosier Valley sent 62 of its own boys into combat during World War II and got 61 back. They left their homes as high school graduates-turned sawyers and orchardists.
Those who returned, came back as soldiers, bonded by the unspoken memories and details that can be so difficult to explain to those who never saw it.
In the years and decades since, many of those 61 have returned to the Mosier Valley cemetery on Memorial Day to pay their respects and to remember Paul Schwantas, the one Mosier soldier who did not make it back to his home and the other 400,000 men and women who died protecting their country during that great war.
Sixty-some years later, just three members of this “Greatest Generation” returned to that hilly plot of ground. They are some of Mosier’s last representatives of the 4,370,000 World War II veterans who are still alive today.
Don Duvall, Willis Gholston and Vern Root were among the 100 or so people who gathered at Mosier’s cemetery for the Memorial Day services, who listened to Douglas Crow read their three names and the 59 others. They heard the Despain family performances of “Amazing Grace” and “God Bless America.”
They stood among veterans from wars in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf — and Sgt. Morgan McCargar, who is both a Persian Gulf veteran and future Iraq War soldier. McCargar could be back in the Persian Gulf by this November.
“He's a soldier,” his mother Glenna said. “This is his job. But of course does any mother want her child to go to war?”
This was one of fewer than 20 Memorial Days our country has honored during a time of war since General John Logan proclaimed it a national holiday on May 5, 1868.