Residents recall importance of Veterans Day

FRONT ROYAL – Residents of Commonwealth Assisted Living in Front Royal spent Veterans Day recalling their service. For some it was like riding a bicycle; it was scary at first but over time it got easier. But for many, the trials and tribulations of war still haunt them even to this day.

Thomas Strickler, was in the United States Navy but transferred to the Marine Corps a short time after. “I went overseas with the Marine detachment and went to several islands,” Strickler recalled. “I participated in the invasion of Guam, when they retook the island, July 21 1944 at 8:15 a.m.”

Strickler said he was glad he served his country but wouldn’t want to do it again.

“I remember the morning, we were all shaking in our shoes, because they were shooting at us. All I can say is I’m glad I survived”. Veterans Day is important to Strickler because he believes Veterans Day should always be observed. “I say that because the veterans themselves are the ones that have kept us here. Everything we have is because of them. And, I’m glad for that.”

Two years ago, Strickler traveled to Stephens City to visit a World War II museum. “I met a veteran there who was also in the Marine Corps,” Strickler said. “And after talking a little bit, we discovered that we landed on the same beach on Guam that morning,” he said fighting back emotions. Seventy years later, they met for the very first time. “It was something,” Strickler said.

Phil Compton was in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. “I was in aviation, airport construction. Control towers and such,” Compton recalled. During his enlistment, Compton traveled to the South Pacific during World War II. Like many of his fellow comrades, Veterans Day is a day to remember where the country has been and where it’s going.

“We all had interesting things happen to us,” Compton said. “Some good, some bad.” Compton recalled the first shot that soared by his head, but counts his blessings that he was never wounded. He paused briefly, clearly thinking of those that gave the ultimate sacrifice. “So many casualties. I was just thankful I made it through.”

For Herbert Easton of Front Royal, mentioning Veterans Day brings a smile to his face, but it didn’t always. “I was in the Marine Corps for three years during Vietnam,” Easton said. When Easton and his fellow Marines returned home from war, a warm welcoming was the last thing they received. “We were spat upon for going to war.” It wasn’t until many years after the war that Vietnam veterans were thanked for their service. Easton said he thinks it was because a lot of the young people didn’t approve of the war. “And they didn’t think we should be over there,” he added.

“I’m elated with joy now that we’ve been accepted,” Easton said breaking into tears. “I just feel good.”