It’s never too late to appreciate what fighting men and women did for our country during World War II, the Korean War, and in Vietnam.
For 27 years, Dr. David R. Lichtinger, internist, has served innumerable veterans.
Recently he honored 22 of them with a commemorative program at his medical office in Leesburg. Family and friends also attended the ceremony and reception.
“Today, we honor our veterans and commemorate their service and sacrifices,” says Dr. Lichtinger. “We are extremely grateful for what they have done for our country.”
Of the 22 men and women honored, not all were present, however, those able to attend received a certificate of appreciation and commemorative pin provided by “Cornerstone SALUTES!” A program sponsored by Cornerstone Hospice & Palliative Care, which serves those experiencing life-limiting illnesses since 1984.
“One thousand veterans from World War II are dying daily,” said Denise Woodall, clinical liaison from Cornerstone, sponsors of the pinning ceremony.
Fire engine #61 from Fire Station 61, Leesburg, was outside the building and hoisted the American flag. Lt. Woody Straub brought the red engine from the Leesburg Fire Station, which serves between 3,000 and 5,000 emergencies annually according to Lt. Straub.
Inside, honorees and guests pledged allegiance to the flag, sang the Star Spangled Banner, and applauded the efforts of honorees.
George Wanberg officiated the ceremony as veteran program administrator for Cornerstone Hospice, Tavares, and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
“How many people do you think served in uniform in all services between 1941 and 1945?” he asked the crowd of some 50 veterans, family members and friends.
“Over 16 million,” he said, “And half of them were women!”
“Women pilots flew the planes to bases overseas to deliver them for the war effort.”
Among the attendees was Cpl. Betty Vendzules, U.S. Marine Corps, who served in 1945-1946 as a supply manager overseas. Her experience was a good one.
“I met the nicest people during the War,” she said.
Sitting next to her, and listening in, was Chief Petty Officer John Rockcastle, U.S. Navy, who served as an engineman on a submarine.
“Are you married?” the two were asked.
“Not yet,” John said, “I was fixing to ask her soon,” he smiled.
“We just met five minutes ago,” Betty replied.
Personalities of World War II veterans seem consistent with positive attitudes, a penchant to joke, and ready smiles: trademarks of the “greatest generation.”
Another couple, who are married, is Robert McKernan and his wife, Mae, with her constant soft smile.
“I joined the Navy in 1948 and got out in 1972, McKernan said. He told one joke after another as he spoke, some of them slightly salty, while his wife kept smiling.
“We have seven boys,” McKernan continued and went on with his jokes.
“What am I going to do with him?” she said. Her calm attitude could be one reason the couple is still married 52 years later.
“We’ve had fun going through life,” McKernan said. “People sometimes make up their own problems.”
Previous to opening his offices in Leesburg, Dr. Lichtinger was physician to the Pittsburgh Steelers NFL football team before moving his practice to Florida years ago.
His spacious offices are set up for treating patients, using ultrasound, stress testing, and bone density scans.
“The doctor really respects these veterans,” said Anna Marie Roswold, nurse practitioner for Dr. Lichtinger. “He wanted to show them, not just tell them.”
The program concluded with a story about a veteran who waited 60 years to receive his Purple Heart.
“We finally made it happen,” Wanberg said, “He was completely surprised when I handed it to him at last. Five days later, he died.”
Wanberg reminded everyone, that while his eyes were moist, “Marines don’t cry! Their eyes sweat is all.”
“Next month,” he continued, “We will be honoring another 2,000 veterans and 1,000 widows throughout seven counties.”
All of them must be remembered.
Names of honored veterans at the office of Dr. David R. Lichtinger:
|War Served||Name||Military Branch|
|World War II||Devere, Edward||Marine|
|World War II||Lambert, Walter||Navy|
|World War II||Mattiucci, Raymond||Air Force|
|World War II||Moul, Donald|
|World War II||Philotoff, Mark||Army|
|World War II||Trapiss, Rudolph||Navy|
|World War II||Tuttle, Roy|
|World War II||Vendzules, Mary (Betty)||Marine|
|Korean||McKernan, Robert||Navy (Submarine)|