MIAMI COUNTY — Fair-goers and veterans had the opportunity to listen to the story from World War II veteran Garl McHenry and celebrate the contributions veterans have made to the country Wednesday night during the Salute to Veterans at the Miami County Fair.
The Troy High School band entertained the crowd for the first 30 minutes, performing patriotic tunes such as “My Country ‘tis of Thee” and “God Save the Queen,” as well as solo part from “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The salute started at 6 p.m. with a presentation of colors from VFW Color Guard Post 5436, AMV Post 88 and AML Post 43. The National Anthem was played, which many in the audience sang along to, and Jr. Fair President Emily Oldham led the Pledge of Allegiance.
Ted Miller welcomed everyone and recognized the sponsors of this year’s salute, which are Unity National Bank and Jim Taylor’s Troy Ford.
State Senator Bill Beagle introduced this year’s speakers.
The first, Executive Director of the Veteran’s Service Office Jeffrey Stapleton, is a native of Troy who enlisted in the Army in 1976 and eventually become an Infantryman. He retired in 2001 after 25 years of service as a decorated soldier.
He explained the role of the Veterans Service Office is help veterans in Miami County and take care of their benefits. Each county has an organization, which is funded by the county’s taxpayers, and has a veteran’s commission.
“I want to reaffirm to each and every one of you that I work for veterans, for the spouse of veterans or if you’re a widow,” he said. “Come see me if you need to get things done that you need to do.”
Stapleton shared some of the services the organization provides veterans, and said he works with Veterans Affairs. He acknowledged the controversy in the last few months about the VA, but said that the hospital in Dayton is one of the best in the nation.
“I’ve worked directly with it,” he said. “The director was sent to Arizona to take care of that mess, if that says anything to you.”
McHenry was then introduced. Discharged from the Army on October 11, 1945 and returning home to Huntington, Ind., he bought some civilian clothes, went to Detroit to buy a used car, loafed for six weeks and then got a job as a band saw and belt sander operator at Caswell Runyon Sewing Cabinet Manufacturing Co.
He made a career in the electronics field, boasting an impressive resume of places worked at and projects worked on. While pursuing his career he made it a goal to build a house every 10 years of his married life to his wife Ruth. As of 2001, he has built six homes.
McHenry shared how the troops of World War II braved treacherous war zones and sadly, many did not come home.
“Some guys would be mowed down with machine guns before they reached the shore,” he said. “Parachutes would catch fire and the men would be dead by the time they reached the shore. Those were horrible battles.”
He credited God with helping him survive and asked the audience to not forget the contributions those who fought World War II gave to the United States.
The Miami County Horsemen and Troy High School Band presented “Salute to the Armed Forces,” followed by a 21 Gun Salute and the playing of “Taps.”
Reach Allison C. Gallagher at [email protected] or on Twitter @Troydailynews.