They marched all over Italy, France then Germany, they landed on Japanese Islands, they fought in Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Lebanon, Somalia and Panama. They liberated Kuwait, Iraq and now Afghanistan. Daily the reports trickle in, of who and from where, they are still paying the ultimate price for our freedom.
I remember being informed of Joseph Theinert, 24, of Shelter Island, a lieutenant in the 71st Cavalry Regiment of the U.S. Army, when he was added to that list when he was killed in a truck bombing in Kandahar, Afghanistan. It was Theinert’s first tour of duty overseas. In 2008, Sag Harbor resident Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 19, a rifleman in the Marine Corps, was killed in action in Ramadi, Iraq. These are just two of many local boys/men who gave their country the ultimate sacrifice by offering their lives to protect our freedoms. Remembering that sacrifice is just what Memorial Day is all about.
When Memorial Day, Monday, May 27, 2013, is observed in the Hamptons, there will be many veterans present. They had a hand in so many of those wars and military actions to preserve the freedoms we in America enjoy each day. They know of fallen friends or comrades. They know the price of freedom paid. Sometimes they witnessed it. Once years back in an interview, Brian Carabine of VFW 550 of Wainscot spoke of “service” and how these men gave the government, “a blank check that included their lives.” He reminded me all these men put their “lives on the line.”
World War II Veteran of the 15th Air Force Walter Ershow, who just passed away January 9, 2013, at the age of 89 and had a home in the Springs. He flew on B-17’s and served from 1942-46 in 15th Air Force, 2nd Bomb group spending most of his time in Southern Italy doing missions over southern Germany, the Balkans, and Poland. My dad, Thomas Gaetano Clemente, also flew B-17’s , but in the 8th Air Force out of England during that period. Back then, when B-17’s went on a mission “1 in 3” did not return. As I spoke to Walter Ershow, he said the names of friends who died in war as boys, not yet 21.
I attended Pelham Memorial High School located on a former American Revolution Battle Field where almost every local militiaman there died in an attempt to delay the British from reaching George Washington’s forces. On top of the High School auditorium built on that battle field where those Patriots died are the words, “Honor here the morals for which they fought.” On Memorial Day, we honor their gift to our freedom, we remember the loss of their lives, futures, and dreams.