At an "all birthdays" party for World War II veterans at Brevard's Monroe Wilson American Legion Post 88 nine heroes were honored:
- James Brush – U.S. Army, Manhattan Project, Navy Sea Systems Command, 97
- Joe Cooper - U.S. Navy (WWII), U.S. Army Recon (Korean War), 99
- Ed Cottrell – U.S. Army Air Force P-47 fighter pilot, European Theatre: Belgium, Germany, France, 100
- Myrl Jean Hughes – U.S. Army physical therapist, Philippines and New Guinea, 99
- George Koch - U.S. Navy, commissary storekeeper, Corpus Christi, Texas, 94
- Dorothy Managan – U.S. Army nurse, American POW care, nursing instructor, 99
- L.C. Poor - U.S. Marine Corps aircraft technician (F4F Corsair/Attack), Squadron VMF 115 (“Joe’s Jokers”), Philippines
and China, 95
- George Sarros – U.S. Navy LST motor machinist, D-Day landing, 65 trips across the English Channel, 96
- Harold Wellington – Merchant Marine, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy; Atlantic convoy duty to Europe and Iran, 97
Two local WWII veterans who had passed away just weeks before the party were honored and remembered:
- Verl Luzena, U.S. Army Air Force combat camera unit, D-Day to Berlin
- Charles Dickson, U.S. Army Air Force paratrooper, 82nd Airborne, D-Day, Sainte-Mere-Eglise
The program host, museum volunteer Michael McCarthy, introduced each veteran with a brief description of his or her service in Europe or the Pacific. Some guests presented handmade gifts and cards. Seated at the head table, the WWII veterans signed copies of a book and handouts published in their honor, met their admirers individually, briefly shared stories of their service, and then enjoyed birthday cake and coffee or tea. The birthday cake, donated by local Ingles Markets manager Phillip Jarrett, was festooned with an American flag surrounded by the first names of all the veterans, signed in patriotic red icing. Dozens of red, white and blue balloons decorated the room.
[The complete first-person stories and pictures of many of the veterans are published in the book “WE SHALL COME HOME VICTORIOUS:” STORIES OF WWII VETERANS, collected by museum volunteer Janis Allen, available on Amazon.com. Proceeds from book sales benefit the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas. Link to the book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088BCJ282Z/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_KN8MFZJQA32...
Also on hand to honor these veterans was USMC veteran (Iraq and Afghanistan) and author Andrew Biggio of American Legion Post 146, Winthrop, Mass. Biggio had interviewed 200 WWII veterans from all over the United States, and in 2021 published a book of their first-person stories. THE RIFLE: COMBAT STORIES FROM AMERICA'S LAST WWI VETERANS, TOLD THROUGH AN M1 GARAND. When visiting each of these 200 veterans, Biggio took his 1943 M1 Garand rifle and asked them to sign the rifle using a white Sharpie.
In August 2021, on a visit to Brevard, he asked seven local WWII veterans to add their signatures to THE RIFLE. Now that the rifle is covered with signatures, Biggio plans to make it available to travel to various museums in the United States. To enable the signed rifle to travel and to provide a fitting display case for museums, Veterans History Museum founder and curator Emmett Casciato designed a wooden case for the gun with assistance from museum board president and Vietnam veteran David Morrow. Vietnam veteran and expert woodcrafter John Hallimore of Brevard built the case. The case has glass sides and ends and a mirror on the bottom inside. It sits on a weighted pedestal and swivels.
In September 2021, WWII fighter pilot Ed Cottrell traveled to the European battlefields where he had fought during the Battle of the Bulge. The trip was sponsored by Biggio. The tour guides who met Cottrell on that trip traveled to Brevard to honor him on his 100th birthday. Vincent de Reyes managed to cut out a piece of a concrete runway on which, 77 years ago, Cottrell landed his P-47. He brought the hunk of concrete, to which a plaque was attached, as a gift to Cottrell.
[THE RIFLE is available on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1684510791/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_glt_i_156MX1PMZSGY...
Post 88 and the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas have forged a close partnership to honor veterans, preserve history, and educate citizens young and old. Past Post Commander is Larry Hammontree.
The museum opens its 2002 season on March 2, with a new exhibit featuring a WWII Willys Jeep. The museum is located at 21 E. Main St. in Brevard (next to the courthouse), and admission is free. For updates on events and veterans’ stories through the museum’s e-newsletter, please contact email@example.com. For more information, please visit www.theveteransmuseum.org.