HONORING LOCAL VETERANS
Editor's note: We asked area veterans to submit a short remembrance and photo to be run on Veterans Day, today. Below are some of those submissions.
Lt. Col. Colleen Elizabeth Kelley was promoted to the rank of colonel on Aug. 10 at Westover Air Force Base. Kelley, ED Director at St. Mary's Hospital in Troy, N.Y., joined the Air Force Reserves in June 2000. Her husband, Antonino Libero Mendolia (Nino) is the son of a Sicilian immigrant who, during World War II, left Italy to fight with the Yugoslav Resistance Forces and was captured and imprisoned in a POW camp.
Nino, and their three children Kita, Elio and Nicholas, have all given so much to support Kelley during her 13-year military career.
Wally Birk, 88, a longtime Bennington resident, was presented with five Battle Stars for his service in the Army during World War II. Drafted in Dec. 1943, he was deployed to the Pacific Theater in early 1944 and was assigned to Company C, 108th Infantry Regiment, 40th Infanty Division. He participated in operations on New Britain, in Papau New Guinea, and the liberation of the Philippine Islands. He was honorably discharged in Sept. 1945, having contracted malaria.
First lieutenant Ted Schneski, son of Ronnie and John Schneski of Bennington, is stationed at Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. He recently received his master's degree in entomology from the University of Nebraska.
From Mary S. King of Bennington: My husband Jim has taught me without words about veterans. When I look into his eyes there is a look of pain as he remembers the fallen -- his friends and comrades. Tears are not allowed but one glistens in his eyes as he sits and looks at the POW flag. By looking into his eyes I witness the grief when certain anniversary dates of his tour of duty occur. One of the days is Mother Day 1968, when many were lost. Even though his tour of duty was 45 years ago, memories of firefights, explosions and loss of buddies remain as though they happened yesterday.
Although he walks slowly with a limp, he continues to march forward with the pride of a Marine. I admire him for his courage in facing each day -- I know, at times, it is very difficult for my husband. Giving up is not his way.
Although, this short writing is about my husband Jim, I know that it rings true for many of our veterans. Our veterans have fought for our freedoms. On Veterans Day everyone should make an effort to thank each and every Veteran on their special day. God Bless America.
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