Veterans' Day 2020 | Beaufort County Now | As this Veterans Day comes upon us it will be probably the least celebrated of all prior celebrations to honor all Veterans serving or not. | beaufort observer, veteran's day, celebration, military, veterans, november 11, 2020

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Veterans' Day 2020

    As this Veterans Day comes upon us it will be probably the least celebrated of all prior celebrations to honor all Veterans serving or not. Only on computer screens will we see and hear the various exhalations of various officials many of whom may be Veterans themselves.

    There will be no gathering of those of us to gather with old friends or meet new ones. I have tried to envision what it will be like at Arlington National Cemetery without the onslaught of family and friends walking those hallowed grounds. I know some cities, I believe Greenville is one, that will do one on their website but it can't possibly compare to kneeling to read the citations etched in stone or maybe touch the stone and say a quiet thank you. No tears of loved ones to stain the stones of those who gave their all.

    Although our President is bringing active duty troops home from their tour of being targets for a rag tag bunch of foreign troops, there are still thousands around the world serving in various ways that should also be given a tip of the hat and a thank you.

    I would like to share a story of a WWII vet. It will read like thousands of other vets but it brings to mind the courage demonstrated by our Veterans. If we never ask, they will never tell.

    On Feb. 28, 1945, Louis Stamatakos saved a B17 Flying Fortress crew from sure disaster in the skies over Germany. The 19-year-old from Dayton, Ohio, was trained as a tail gunner and survived 31 missions over Europe with the 8th Air Force, which flew out of England. While bombing railroad yards in Kassel, Germany, on his 23rd mission, two 250-pound bombs failed to drop. One was stuck by a single shackle and the other by both shackles. "Everyone went crazy when they heard that," Stamatakos said, "and then somebody said, 'Hey, get the Greek, he's been going to armament school.' I took a look and said, 'Well, maybe I can break them loose.'"

    Break them loose he did — with a short-handled fire ax. The wind had spun a small propeller on the nose of one bomb, which armed it and meant one false move would detonate it. At 20,000 feet and 20 below zero, Stamatakos kept swinging until the shackles released both bombs. "That's back when I was young and dumb," said Stamatakos. Crewmate Richard Rainoldi, a retired Air Force colonel, said, "If he hadn't done it, it was either bailing out or blowing up."

    Stamatakos's three sons were so impressed with their dad's story that they tracked down Rainoldi, who had been the plane's navigator, and he gave a sworn statement that was delivered to the Army. On Christmas Eve, 2009, Stamatakos, now a retired Michigan State University professor, received a letter from the Department of the Army saying he would be awarded the Silver Star in a ceremony on Feb. 17 at Michigan's state capitol in Lansing.

    If you meet a Vet be sure to thank him for his service, he will be thankful for your support.


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