The Brown County Senior Fair Board held its annual veterans program on Thursday, October 1, with this year’s theme highlighting veterans from World War II.
As many as ten World War II veterans sat in seats placed in the middle of the main ring, and were introduced individually by former Marine Corps Colonel and current Brown County Juvenile/Probate Court Judge Danny Bubp.
The man who received the biggest applause was 96-year-old Joe Kaufman, who said he served in General George S. Patton’s third army in Europe. It was later revealed that Kaufman was shot three times during the Battle of the Bulge, along the border of Belgium and Luxembourg, and was later awarded a purple heart.
Kaufman also was awarded a silver star and multiple combat infantry badges.
Also honored during the ceremony was;
Sergeant John Hirons, 90, U.S. Army infantry, served in Germany.
Jack Russell, 89, U.S. Army. Served in Normandy, France and European Theater.
Charles A. Alexander, 88, U.S. Army. Served in the Alaskan Theater and on Adak Island.
John Neal, 89, U.S. Marine Corps. Served in Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Tinian, in the Mariana Islands.
Roy Griffith, 89, U.S. Marine Corps. Served on Okinawa, Japan and in China.
Robert Bechtol, 91, U.S. Marine Corps. Served on Guadalcanal in the Soloman Islands and then redeployed to the Korean War.
Jim Hawthorne, 91, U.S. Army. Served in Okinawa, Japan.
Kenneth Arthur, 88, U.S. Marine Corps. Served in Iwo Jima and Hawaii.
Herman Jesse, 94, U.S. Navy. Served in the South Pacific.
“That’s what’s great about America. We can come out with the freedoms that we have, and honor men and women that have given so much to make it possible for us to be here at an event like this,” Bubp said.
Following the show, many guests in the audience as well as high school students that were in attendance as members of Junior ROTC units at Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington High School and Western Brown High School came up to the veterans to shake their hands and thank them for their service.
The Senior Fair Board also welcomed a new guest speaker to the event, former Marine Corps Sergeant James Brady, who is the new superintendent at Fayetteville-Perry schools.
Brady said that it was an honor to speak about and meet veterans, especially those who fought in World War II.
“While in the Marine Corps Admiral Camp, history was taught to us,” Brady said. “We were preached to about Tarawa, Iwo Jima, all the previous incidents and conflicts the Marine Corps and Army participated in.
“What we haven’t mentioned is that we’re losing them, by the average of 500 a day. We were at one time 16 million, and now we’re about 855,000 strong. So you don’t get that opportunity very often to see (a WWII veteran). In the Marine Corps, if you run into somebody that’s an Iwo Jima veteran, they’re like a legend.”