http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2012/11/16/veterans-share-stories-of-world-war-ii


Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 16, 2012

Veterans share stories of World War II

'I was 4 years in the Marine Corps, I'm alive, I'm a happy guy'

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Veterans were celebrated at the Parkview senior assisted living facility this afternoon as two members of Odyssey Hospice visited to hand out certificates and pins, one by one, in gratitude for their service.

"We're here to celebrate you as veterans of the United States," said Martha Kay Nelson. "I invite you to share stories. There's so much wisdom and so many stories in this room. I'm here to listen to you."

Dozens of residents were in attendance in addition to the veterans, who were mostly from World War II plus some had served during the Korean War.

Jack Adams, one of the first honored, said he had too many memories and not enough time to share them.

"I saved over one hundred lives," volunteered Clifford Blackett. "I shot the cook."

One soldier said the worst part was the time spent aboard ship en route to the front because he was prone to seasickness.

Another remembered marching through Europe after the Germans.

"I never fired my rifle but I got shot at," he said.

"I was four years in the Navy entertaining the troops," recalled Leo Cunningham.

Jack Laird, who served in the Air Force, was based at Guadalcanal.

"Gen. MacArthur was on the next island and we had to bring one thing to him on an airplane -- a new refrigerator," he recalled, adding that it was a successful mission.

Another said he was still a teenager, serving in the middle of Czechoslovakia, when he was among those who liberated a concentration camp.

"I didn't even know about them," he said. "A 17-year-old kid, that was quite a thing."

"I was four years in the Marine Corps, I'm alive, I'm a happy guy," said Sven Thoolen.

A woman noted that she had four brothers who served during World War II, in the Army, Air Force and Navy, and they were gone for four to five years.

"They all came back safely, thank God," she said.

A minute of silence was observed for those who did not return, then the crowd sang a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.

Refreshments were served, and the veterans continued to visit. Parkview has 25 veterans in residence out of a total population of 123, and Veterans of Foreign Wars from Post 6298 already had been there for a Veterans Day flag ceremony.

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