Veteran brothers honored by Strasburg council

Strasburg Town Council recognized the three Strasburg Updyke brothers, all veterans, for their military service during WWII. From left are Benjamin Franklin Updike, 89, Philip Wayno Updike, 91, and Harold Updike, 92. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – It’s a rare occasion when a town honors three World War II veterans for their service at the same time, but it’s even more rare when those three men are brothers.

Strasburg Mayor Tim Taylor presented Harold Richard Updyke, 92, Philip Wayno Updyke, 91, and Benjamin Franklin Updyke, 89, with honors at the town council meeting Tuesday. The three brothers were born and raised in Strasburg before entering into the service, and joined the American Legion Post 77 after they returned home. Harold Updyke served as commander for the post from 1967 to 1968.

At the meeting, current Post 77 Commander John Holland presented the three with engraved money clips and membership cards.

“It’s pretty humbling to be in the presence of people who fought under Patton and combat engineering and participated in the invasion of Okinawa,” he said.

Taylor remarked about the rarity of being able to honor three veteran brothers and the legacy of their “greatest generation.” He relayed stories he’d heard from the three about Harold Updyke’s service in General Patton’s colorguard, Wayno Updike’s journey through Europe and Ben Updyke’s part in the invasion of Okinawa.

“We appreciate and really are so pleased to have you all in the Strasburg community representing what you all did, again, for this greatest generation,” he said.

He gave the brothers Department of Veterans Services medals and the Pride of Strasburg framed certificates. Department representative Geoffrey White also gave the three men his thanks.

The Updykes’ family has footprints throughout the town – their father’s paintings hang on the walls at Post 77 and Ben Updyke said at a reception after the meeting that his father built a number of structures around the town, including the current Liberty Tax Service building, where he was born. He recalled plowing fields for buckwheat for his grandfather by the Riverview cemetery and helping to build and paint the Post 77 building.

“The building was just like this one room … then they expanded and kept expanding,” he said.

Wayno Updyke said he remembers helping to pour the footing for the post.

“We just had a little old building up on the town lot … I think the Boy Scouts maybe used the same building,” he said. “It was about as big as a box car.”

When he came back to the American Legion in Strasburg in his 20s, Wayno Updyke said he joined many World War I veterans who were around 60 years old at the time. He said he even recalls seeing Civil War veterans coming to the area for the Fisher’s Hill picnic when he was a kid.

“They sort of stayed to themselves and we stayed to ourselves,” he said laughingly of the WWI vets. “But we got along fine.”

Overall, the Updykes said receiving the awards was a surprise to them. Ben Updyke said he was glad to receive the honors alongside his brothers – honors coming from a hometown with so many fond memories.

“What I remember best is our hunting and fishing, that was our recreation,” he said. “I don’t think you can beat being born and raised in a small town, in my way of thinking.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com