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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

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        According to the members of the Oregon’s Dunberger American Legion Post 537 Color Guard, one poem says it all.

        Lawrence Vaincourt’s classic “Just a Common Soldier” is commonly referred to as “A Veteran Died Today” or “A Soldier Died Today.” It was first published in his 1987 Remembrance Day newspaper column, but for the purpose of Dunberger’s Color Guard, “A Veteran Died Today” best serves the purpose.

 

        It describes a veteran who has sacrificed, but as he nears the end of his life, all that he asks for is “homage

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World War II veterans Andy Horvath and Chris Grevis. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)

at the ending of his days.”

        “That poem pretty much sums it up,” said Dunberger Color Guard member Jim Ernsthausen.

        As World War II and Korean War veterans continue to pass away, membership at approximately 14,000 American Legion posts nationwide continues to decline.

        At Dunberger, the Color Guard membership is also in decline, and only two WWII veterans, Andy Horvath and Chris Grevis, remain. Who will pay “homage” to them when they pass away, they ask?

        Andy Horvath served in the Mediterranean Sea on the aircraft carrier USS Philippine Sea and the USS Leyte and then the Naval Reserve Seabees for a total of 24 years. Andy has three sons, Eric, Carl and Kurt whom all served in the Navy.

        Chris Grevis served in the Pacific on the destroyer USS Daly which saw action at the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa where it was attacked and hit by kamikazes. He had two brothers who served in WWII. His brother Andy was dropped in over Greece and fought with the Greek resistance until he was captured by the Bulgarians. His brother George landed in France on D-Day-plus one and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Chris has a son, Steve, whom is a retired Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and a grandson, Calvin, whom is active Army with 16 years and two tours in Iraq.

        “That was their big question — ‘Who is going to be there to do theirs, and the rest of the guys?’” said 78-year-old Dunberger Color Guard member Corky Walter, who served in the Marina Corps from 1959-63.

.       It became an issue when Horvath and Grevis actually presented their question to Ernsthausen. Now, Ernsthausen wants to pass that question on to today’s younger veterans and to the public.

        Ernsthausen asks, “I hope you will join our family and help in the positive the question asked to me by Andy and Chris at a recent funeral we conducted, ‘Will there by someone to give us a salute when the time comes?’”

That’s how it started

        The Dunberger Color Guard started in a similar fashion — two veterans noticed a fellow service member was not getting a military salute. So, they decided to do something about it.

        The present Dunberger Post Color Guard was started in 1987 by Danny Anderson and Bob Helle after they attended a friend’s funeral and were disappointed that he did not have a military salute. The Color Guard soon grew to about 31 members, a large number of them being World War II veterans.

        Since their beginnings 30 years ago, they have performed over 1,200 military funerals along with many parades, Memorial Day services at five cemeteries every year, Veterans Day programs at Waite High School and Oregon Schools, all Clay home football games and countless other events.

        Ernsthausen says serving on the Color Guard gives each member a sense of pride. At funerals, it does even more for the deceased’s family and friends.

        “They take pride in their appearance and services performed,” Ernsthausen said. “Almost all citizens of East Toledo and Oregon have had an occasion to attend an event where our Color Guard was present.

        “However, today the unit has a serious problem. The average age of the Color Guard is 75, with three members age 88, 89 and 91. Due to sickness and death, our membership is 19 (from 31 when he joined). Considering that a full military funeral requires 17 members to conduct, it is becoming more and more difficult to have enough members available. Thanks to the devotion of our members we have been able to honor most requests.

        “We are looking for men and women whom are Legion members, or would like to become members to join our Color Guard so we can continue to honor our country and its veterans. No one is too young or too old, everyone is welcome. Transportation can be worked out most of the time. We furnish complete uniforms for all weather conditions and all equipment needed. If you can volunteer four hours a week, it would help us carry on our mission.”

        Walters adds, “As far as the Color Guard, that’s not every week. We may do three in a week, and then we may go an entire month and a half with none.”

        Ernsthausen adds, “We have one person in our Color Guard who still works at Ford up in Michigan and I think he works 10, 12 days in a row then he gets four days off, and if we call him and it’s during his four days off he is right there. His time is precious to him, but he helps whenever he can.”

        Fortunately for Dunsberger, two of its Color Guard members are members of other Legion posts that do not have a Color Guard of its own. That helps keep the Color Guard floating with its minimal 17 members for a full military funeral, but they can only hope that membership remains sufficient to serve older veterans like Horvath and Grevis. In addition, one member is a Korean War veteran who is already 90-years-old.

       

       

 

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Did you watch any of the TV coverage of President George H.W. Bush?
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