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Historical Society honors Veterans

Philip Nelson tells his experiences.
Perk Allred speaks to Emery County Historical Society members.

Staff Writer

As members of the Emery County Historical Society gathered in the Museum of the San Rafael on Veterans Day, Evelyn Huntsman welcomed everyone. She said, "It is so gratifying to see so many Veterans here tonight as we begin this program to honor them."

Scouts from the Ferron Scout troop #396 presented the flag ceremony and led the Pledge of Allegiance. Every Veteran in the audience was welcomed to stand and state the branch in which they served, and the time frame of their service. There were Veterans from the Marine Corps, Army Air Corps, Navy and the Sea Bees.

Ray Wareham spoke of his time in the Army during World War II. He served in the South Pacific after graduation from South Emery High School. He told of his travels and experiences around New Caledonia, the New Hebrides Islands, and the Marshall Islands. Caleb Woolsey stood beside Wareham and was wearing Wareham's Marine Corps uniform.

Edward Geary asked two additional Veterans, Perk Allred and Philip Nelson, to join the panel for questions. The first question asked the one particularly memorable experience from the service.

Nelson displayed the history book he has which tells of the Sea Bees in the South Pacific and everything they accomplished. He said he broke his arm in the first grade and it healed crooked, and that old injury took away all his dreams of being a pilot. No branch of the military with an air corps would take him. He decided to join the Navy as a sailor and they still wouldn't take him. The Navy recruiter suggested the Sea Bees.

Nelson contacted them and they took him. He was so happy to be able to serve. He was also shipped to the South Pacific. His job in the Sea Bees was involved with construction projects and he was involved with building many airstrips on the islands. His unit won a commendation for building the best airstrip in the Pacific. Besides construction work, he helped with many wounded soldiers. His one promise on his return to the States was "never to eat Spam again."

Allred said at first he joined the Marine Corps. He had a friend from the county who had been killed in the fighting in Korea and he wanted to go and serve in his friend's memory, to sort of avenge his death. "For a while after I came home, I didn't want to talk about my service with anyone. Most Vets are like that. We had some ugly experiences," said Allred. After Korea, Allred was sent to Alaska.

A fellow military person suggested Allred join the newly formed Army Air Corps, and he did. After four and a half years in the Air Force Academy and special forces training, Allred was sent to temporary duty in Vietnam. "That was another place where the ugliest things happened," said Allred. "I also want to encourage everyone to live this life with an attitude of gratitude for our freedom."

Wareham closed the program by stating that this county has lost many young men in wars during the years. "I think the county should do something about a monument to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for this country. We need a plaque with all their names," he said.

Geary added that histories are very important and urged all families to write down the histories of their Veterans. "Don't let them be lost. The worst thing we can do is forget those who served," Geary said.

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