The service and sacrifices of more than 17 area World War II veterans were honored Tuesday at a luncheon sponsored by the Glennville Chamber of Commerce.
Elderly men who served in the Army, Navy and Marines when they were younger experienced events that altered mankind. Some spoke of battles in dusty North Africa, others of time aboard ships in the Pacific, and one said he was in Germany when the war finally ended.
Glennville brothers Jack Rogers, 85, Emory Rogers, 87, and Bryon G. Rogers, 90, all fought in World War II.
“Me and my brother Emory were inducted at the same time,” Jack Rogers said. “He got the Army and went to Japan. I got the Navy and went to Germany.”
Rogers said a younger brother, Billy, trained for the military during the war and two of their brothers-in-law also served.
“I’m proud to be an American,” Rogers said.
He went into the banking industry in 1946 and spent 52 years with the Glennville Bank.
“I think it’s great for somebody to put this on,” he said of the awards luncheon.
“We are a free, independent (country) because of them,” Glennville Chamber of Commerce president Zuber Malek said. “It’s a great honor for us to recognize them for their sacrifice. These individuals have done so much for others even without knowing them.”
“We wanted to thank all of our veterans,” Glennville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Linda Griffin said.
The luncheon initially was planned as a way to recognize those Tattnall County veterans who recently traveled to Washington, D.C., with Honor Flight Savannah, but it grew to include all local World War II veterans, according to Griffin.
The local Honor Flight chapter serves elderly and infirm veterans, most of whom fought in World War II and the Korean War and are residents of Coastal Georgia and South Carolina. The chapter offers them a free trip to the nation’s capital to visit war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery. The next Honor Flight Savannah trip is planned for September.
Griffin said there is a sense of urgency in offering World War II veterans the recognition they deserve as most now are in their mid- to late 80s.
“Many of them have not talked about the war,” she said. “They served, came home and tried to get on with their lives. And some of them had prestigious careers while they were in the military.”
Griffin said the chamber has a list of 20 veterans for this event and may host a luncheon next year to ensure all local World War II veterans receive recognition. She said veterans of the Korean War and later conflicts, such as the Vietnam War, could be honored next year should another luncheon be held.
WTOC anchor Sonny Dixon emceed the event, and 3rd Infantry Division Deputy Commanding General of Maneuver Col. Roger Cloutier presented plaques to veterans in honor of their service.
Cloutier told those assembled that the 3rd ID played a significant role in World War II, adding that 36 Dogface soldiers were Medal of Honor recipients during that conflict.
“You didn’t have to defend America but you did,” he said.
Glennville is home to the Georgia Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery, which was dedicated in November 2007.
For more information on Honor Flight Savannah, go to www.honorflight.org or call 912-492-0738.