Patriotism was alive and well in Wayne County over the extended July 4 holiday. The Freedom’s Never Free World War II Traveling Memorial was set in Piedmont July 3-7. The memorial was brought to the community by the Piedmont Area Chamber of Commerce. In Greenville, the Wayne County Bicentennial Parade was held in conjunction with the Greenville Picnic.
Piedmont is the first Missouri city to host the World War II Traveling Memorial. Sixteen million soldiers served in World War II. The wall remembers the 400,000 soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice to ensure our freedom.
The World War II memorial arrived in Piedmont Tuesday afternoon led by a convoy of about 450 motorcycle riders who volunteered their time to be part of a patriot guard. As the procession arrived in Piedmont, it was met by individuals who had lined Main Street waving flags.
Among those who were in Piedmont to watch the arrival of the convoy was David Jordan of Doniphan. The 92-year-old said he felt the need to come to Piedmont to watch the wall’s arrival. Jordan is a special man, he is a veteran of three wars—World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
Jordan had quit high school in 1941 to join the Navy. He was stationed on a brand new destroyer, the USS Stephen Porter. The ship, along with a crew of 300 men, logged 200,000 miles and took part in some of the battles that were vital to winning the U.S. Pacific offensive.
Jordan received 10 battle stars, a Phillipine Liberation Ribbon with two stars, the American Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal, United Nations Medal, World War II Victory Medal and the Philippine Independence Medal during his two years on the Potter.
The Daughter’s of the American Revolution held a very moving wreath laying ceremony Saturday morning. Two World War II veterans were in attendance–Sam Losh of Piedmont and Raymond Sanders of Van Buren.
Losh served in World War II from 1942 to 1945. He was just a kid when he enlisted and married his wife of 74 years while on a three-day leave. After marrying his bride Laura, he would go two years without seeing her again.
Losh was assigned to 2nd Infantry Division, 462nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. His group landed at Omaha Beach and he fought at Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded at 2:30 a.m. He spent nine months in the hospital before being own back to the United States and reunited with his wife. He still has shrapnel from his wounds in his body.
He received the Purple Heart, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the European-Africa, Middle Eastern Campaign, the World Ward II Victory, the Battle of the Bulge Medal, the World War II D-Day Ribbon, and the Unit Ward Belgain Army Fourragere 1940 Decree No. 2509 of June 17, 1946 for the Battle of the Bulge.
Sanders called up his family members Tuesday evening, July 2, telling them that he expected them in Piedmont for the DAR ceremony. He was surrounded by all of his loved ones.
Sanders is a cousin of Piedmont resident Gordon Sanders who is very active in the American Legion. He was the oldest World War II veteran in attendance at 96 years old.
When Sean Montgomery sang, “God Bless the USA,” Sanders stood. At the end of the song, he proclaimed, “Amen!”
Losh and Sanders were joined by three other World War II veterans for the Fourth of July parade that evening. Joining them were: Cloyd Cook, Wilbert Schmidt, and Leon Williams.
“We need to recognize the few who sacrificed so much,” Senator Wayne Wallingford said during comments Wednesday morning.
Rep. Chris Dinkins’ grandfather was a prisoner of war during World War II. She said that he returned home a different man. Dinkins said that we cannot fully understand what they went through.
“One thing I know for sure if that he loved his country,” Dinkins said. “He, like so many others, left his family willingly and eager to give of themselves so that we have the freedoms we enjoy today.”
“We are here to show our respect to all of our veterans past and present,” said Presiding Commissioner Brian Polk. “We can’t imagine the hardships that our World War II veterans endured. Without their service and sacrifice, we would not be here celebrating our freedom.”
Piedmont Mayor Bill Kirkpatrick said his uncle served in World War II and is represented by one of the stars on the memorial. He was 19 when he was killed.
Both the Piedmont parade and Greenville parade had a float for Purple Heart veterans.