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Saluting Our War Heroes

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Columns

Madylon Kubera said it was not an easy or logical thing to describe. Somehow, in all the parallels, she found her way to comfort, even at a moment that might have seemed to bring her sorrow. Saturday, she sat a row or two away from the back at Holy Trinity Church in Dunkirk, listening as Kareen Briggs Simmons eulogized an older brother, Sgt. Gerald Raeymacker. Both S…

Deaths

While a memorial service is often an interval for grief, Kareen Briggs Simmons described a dramatically opposite response in her eulogy Saturday for her older brother, U.S. Army Sgt. Gerald Raeymacker, who died in 1950 in the Korean War. The return of his remains represents “miraculous closure for our family,” Simmons told the congregation at Holy Trinity Church in Dunk…

Local News

WASHINGTON – Veterans will gather in Corfu Wednesday afternoon to hear the latest about the region's new veterans cemetery – including some more bad news about yet another delay. While the first phase of the cemetery project will result in burials starting late next year, the second – originally said to follow the first by only months – now won't be under construction u…

Columns

Darlene Cooley knew it was a long shot. She went looking for a safe deposit box last month, a few weeks after learning the Army had identified the remains of a 21-year-old uncle she never knew, a sergeant killed in the Korean War amid a chaotic whirlwind of courage and horror at the Chosin Reservoir. Cooley's grandmother, Margaret Briggs, prayed for news about her son u…

History

The rocket attack blew U.S. Army Spc. Brian E. Will off the back of a transport truck and nearly tore off his ring finger. Will had only two months left in a 1969 tour of duty in Vietnam when he became a war casualty. His wife remembers the call as if it happened yesterday. “He called me at 3:30 in the morning,” said Linda Will. “I don’t want you to worry, but I’m…

Local News

The flag that covered the coffin of a local Medal of Honor recipient will be presented to Niagara County at a ceremony Wednesday night in North Tonawanda. More than 50 of Niagara County's Purple Heart recipients are expected to be on hand for the first of what is expected to be an annual event marking National Purple Heart Day. The county has compiled a special steel…

History

East Aurora native and World War II veteran Luciano “Louis” C. Graziano is believed to be the last living eyewitness to the formal surrender of Germany at the “Little Red Schoolhouse” in Reims, France. Of that monumental moment in history on May 7, 1945, Graziano says that at the time he did not realize the gravity of it. “I just took it as it came. I was 22. I didn’…

Local News

Sgt. Meredith F. "Buster" Keirn of the U.S. Marines died on a frozen North Korean hillside in 1950 after a grenade blast severed his left arm. Marine Corps medics could only bury his body – not bring it with them – as they retreated from the area around the Chosin Reservoir. Keirn's remains – which were returned to the U.S. in 2015 – will be buried on Aug. 8 with ful…

Erie County

Gene Clyde Stottele rarely spoke about his experiences as a Korean war soldier, but his family knew what a painful toll the war took on the Town of Tonawanda man. The infantryman spent many harrowing months in fierce combat on the front lines, including the infamous 1953 Battle at Pork Chop Hill, where one of his best Army buddies was killed by mortar fire in a bunker w…

Local News

Paul Rudnicki clocked more time in the air over the jungles of Vietnam than he can remember, but he never saw one hour of combat. Rudnicki, a captain in the U.S. Army, served as a military judge traveling throughout South Vietnam to ensure American soldiers received fair trials. “Those men and women deserve justice and it was our job to deliver it to them,” Rudnicki,…

History

They are heroes who seldom seek the limelight. Many of the hundreds of veterans I have interviewed wonder why I want to talk to them. Some start out by saying, "Do you really think I have a story worth telling?" It's mostly their friends and relatives who suggested I call. But after listening to hundreds of stories of military service – from storming the beaches of N…

Buffalo

Father and son were on a fishing trip along the shores of Lake Ontario in 1957 when 17-year-old Gary A. Bauer caught his dad's attention. Bauer had left Hutchinson Central Technical High School without a diploma and was dismayed when he learned a local plant would not consider hiring him until he turned 18. The possibility of being drafted into the Army or Marines an…

Buffalo

Pete Niland's first true epiphany about the way D-Day transformed his life arrived long before the calls from historians or reporters that are now almost routine at his North Tonawanda home, and long before the movie that shifted a family’s grief into American legend. Almost 50 years ago, just out of college, Pete was roaming through Europe with a childhood buddy when h…

Local News

Clyde E. Butcher Jr. was in basic training with the Army Air Corps at Sheppard Field near Wichita Falls, Texas, in August 1945 when he learned the United States had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. The dropping of the bombs, followed by Japan's unconditional surrender, was greeted enthusiastically by Butcher and his fellow trainees. "I thought, that's great," Butch…