Memorial parade pays tribute to 6 WWII veterans

This year’s Memorial Day Parade in Milford was a little different than past years. In addition to marching in honor of military personnel who gave their lives for the country, the parade units and those who gathered to watch honored six veterans of WWII who live in Milford.

The six men, ages 89 to 99, were driven along the parade route and introduced to the public at the city gazebo at the end of the parade.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Rembetsy served in England during WWII, assigned to a bomb wing of the Eighth Air Force

“I don’t know if any of you saw the movie 12 O’Clock High, or the TV series 12 O’Clock High,” said Tom Flowers, chairman of Milford’s Veterans, Parades and Ceremony Commission, as he introduced the six veterans, “but that’s what that was all about. That’s what this gentleman did during his tour in England during the second world war.”

Twelve O'Clock High is a 1949 film about aircrews in the United States Army's Eighth Air Force who flew dangerous bombing missions over Nazi Germany and occupied France, and engaged in air-to-air fighter combat against enemy aircraft, according to an online source. Flowers said the unit suffered heavy casualties.

Richard Herman, longtime principal of Milford High School and an assistant school superintendent in Milford, was introduced by his nephew, Mayor Ben Blake.

“He served proudly in WWII, on the European front and the Pacific theater as well,” Blake said. “He was with General Patton’s army, enlisted in 1941 before he went to officer candidate school and ultimately became a captain. He served with distinction, earning the bronze star for meritorious service against the Germans.”

Hank France was in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, served at Guam, and other battles that took place in the Pacific.

U.S. Navy veteran Steve Racz was at the Invasion of Normandy — D Day.

Edward Berberich served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, and he is still a regular member of American Legion Post 196.

Wayne Carson, commander of American Legion Post 34, joined the Navy in the latter stages of WWII, and then joined the Army, with which he participated and fought in the Korean War.

After the six veterans were introduced, Parade Grand Marshal Christine Smith spoke, talking about her pride in being American. A U.S. Navy veteran, Smith is state president of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, and vice chairman of the Milford Veterans, Ceremony and Parade Commission.

Smith said she believes there is confusion and uncertainty today.

“Some of us have lost our way in this very troubled world filled with mixed messages and doubts about how we remain free,” Smith said. “Our founders could have let the injustices go and had their lives dictated to them, but they didn’t.”

She told the people gathered at the gazebo for this year’s Memorial Day salute that Americans succeeded in building a nation that stands as an example to all freedom-loving people, and she thanked veterans for the sacrifices they made.

“We must all do our part in protecting our freedoms, otherwise lives given will be lives given in vain,” Smith said.

“As we observe Memorial Day we do more than simply carry on the tradition dating back to 1866, we also fulfill a commitment to some very special people,” Smith continued. “Each one who faced the enemy down a rifle barrel, who endured as a prisoner or stood guard duty fighting loneliness and fear, they gave us this precious day and all the days of our future, many at the expense of their own.”