Veterans show their pride at Vancouver ceremony

Holiday event in Vancouver draws 150 to Post Cemetery

By Dave Kern, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Clark County Honors Vets

Clark County Honors its veterans during several events as America celebrates Veterans Day.

photoBugle player Richard Alvarez salutes as Vancouver observes Veterans Day during a ceremony at the Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery on Sunday. Alvarez is with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7824.

(/The Columbian)

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Did You Know?

World War I ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In 1926, Congress officially called Nov. 11th “Armistice Day.” In 1954, Congress changed the name to Veterans Day.

Columbia Credit Union sponsored the Vancouver ceremony.

On April 11, 1944, Walter Holy registered for the draft and requested immediate induction into the U.S. Army. He was determined to go to war, and he was 16.

Holy was in the crowd on Veterans Day at Vancouver Barracks Post Cemetery "to honor all those who have died." He served in Europe from 1945 to 1948, including with Dwight David Eisenhower in Frankfurt, Germany.

Seven years later, Holy again entered active duty in the Air Force and eventually served in Vietnam.

Now 84, Holy remembers those years "with utmost pride."

Craig Satre also was in that huddled gathering, rain and cold making things a bit miserable for the Sunday morning ceremony attended by about 150 people. He was with his daughter, Stephanie Satre, 32.

"I think this is the greatest thing our city does, remember our veterans," Satre said.

Satre served in the Army in Germany in 1971 and 1972. He is from an Army family.

His father served in the Army Air Corps in World War II, as did his uncle, who died in the war. His

cousin died in Vietnam.

"I lost friends in Vietnam," he said.

"I was there to honor my husband," said Brenda Hillstrom of Vancouver. Then living in Hartlepool, England, she met GI Dennis Hillstrom on a vacation in Pisa, Italy, in 1964. They were married the next year.

"He won the Bronze Star in Vietnam," Brenda said of Dennis, who died in 2009 and is buried in the Barracks cemetery. He served 21 years in the Army.

Of the ceremony, she said, "Oh, I love it. It makes me feel good and very close when I go to these ceremonies."

Vietnam veteran Jim Martin of Washougal, wearing a leather U.S. Marine Corps jacket, said he brought his grandson, Kodah, 8, hoping the boy could understand a bit about the sacrifices men and women have made for freedom.

And Geoff Dooley of Vancouver came with his wife, Karalynn, and their 18-month-old daughter, Teagen, and the family lasted the entire 85-minute ceremony.

Dooley serves full time in the Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing. "Look around the crowd, there was a lot of tears shed," he said.

The cemetery is off Fourth Plain Boulevard just east of Interstate 5.

Speaker after speaker echoed that Americans need to thank veterans.

"Simply reach out your hand and thank them for their service … and their sacrifice," said Brig. Gen. Bruce Prunk, Assistant Adjutant General of the Oregon Air National Guard in Salem, Ore.

Every veteran has a story," Prunk said. "No two veterans experiences are the same." Those stories need to be told and remembered, he said.

Prunk cited all veterans and lauded the 7.5 million living Vietnam veterans, saying, "The recognition you get now is long overdue."

Vancouver City Councilman and retired Lt. Col. Larry Smith led the ceremony. He saluted four Buffalo soldiers who served as the honorary honor guard. Bill Morehouse of Portland at 90 years of age never wavered in keeping his post.

Smith noted that Buffalo soldier and Medal of Honor recipient Moses Williams is buried in the Barracks cemetery.

As for Walter Holy, the boy who went to war, he served for 32 years, seven months and 10 days. Asked about those years, he said, "Serving is a duty and a great responsibility and I would gladly do it all over again."