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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Veterans Day memories, heroes

Tomorrow, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Today, I honor all veterans as "The Greatest Generation."

Most of Anna Maria Island won't be taking the day off, caring or noticing little that the day is to honor those who served in the armed forces of this country.

Sure, everybody wants to say thanks to the troops in Iraq and around the world.

And there will be a ceremony with aging World War II veterans and a few from the Korean and Vietnam wars in the sparse crowd that attends, but it will be in Bradenton. Islanders, like most people, will take little notice of past war veterans.

This is not, however, to detract from our troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the world today. I salute them and they should be honored. Let's remember them and those who have died in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but let's not forget those who have gone before them, or those who are still with us.

The veterans I've written about are not just statistics, they are real people who served their country and made it home by the "luck of the draw." Veterans Day is about those who came back from every war, those who never fought in a war but were prepared to fight, those who never fired a shot in anger, and all those who served their country with pride and dignity, regardless if they were a combat soldier slogging through the jungles of southeast Asia, a desk jockey typing up press releases for some general in the Pentagon, or a cook in a line outfit in Europe. You served, and proudly.

This Veterans Day, take just 30 seconds to remember those who served their country and were prepared to make the supreme sacrifice for us.

My heroes
On this Veterans Day, I salute all veterans.

Sadly, I'm running out of Island, Perico, Cortez and Longboat Key veterans to interview. There are only so many in our readership area and their numbers are dwindling rapidly.

The following veterans are the ones I've interviewed for "The Greatest Generation" column. Thank you. You and all the veterans I've never met are my heros.

Alcee Taylor, Cortez. U.S. Navy; Jackson Grey, Anna Maria, U.S. Merchant Marine; Souris, Perico Island, U.S. Army Air Force; W.H. "Snooks" Adams, Holmes Beach, U.S. Navy; Ray "Mac" McDonnel, Holmes Beach, U.S. Navy; Ken Freshwater, Bradenton Beach, U.S. Army; Marty Higgins, Anna Maria, U.S. Army; John Bacich, Anna Maria, U.S. Army; John DeForge, Holmes Beach, U.S. Army Air Force; Russ Olson, Holmes Beach, U.S. Marine Corps; Jim Kissick, Bradenton Beach, U.S. Navy; Virgil Catlin, Clearwater, U.S. Army; Angelo Louloudes, Anna Maria, U.S. Marine Corps; Mark Alonso, Anna Maria, U.S. Army; Bob DeVane, Bradenton Beach, U.S. Army; Bob Shafer, Anna Maria, U.S. Army Air Force; Don Maloney, Holmes Beach, U.S. Army; Marjorie Kendall, Holmes Beach, Royal Navy; Ed Callen, Anna Maria, U.S. Navy; Ruth Heckinger, Perico Isle, U.S. Army Nurse Corps; Bill Olson, Anna Maria, U.S. Army; Hal Bergstrom, Holmes Beach, U.S. Army; Peter Duke, Cortez, Royal Navy; Cedella Duke, Cortez, Royal Air Force; Paul Mackey, Perico Island, U.S. Army OSS; Bob Peck, Holmes Beach, U.S. Army Air Force; Bob Frank, Holmes Beach, U.S. Army Air Force; Frank Zacchero, Holmes Beach, U.S. Army; Hank van Winkle, Holmes Beach, U.S. Merchant