IN PRAISE OF PATRIOTISM : VETERANS RECALL OLD BATTLES, COMPLAIN OF FEDERAL CUTBACKS.
Philip Shea was 19 years old when the United States reached a hard-fought truce with communist-led North Korea on July 27, 1953. War-weary American soldiers, ecstatic at the prospect of returning home and too tired to lug their ammunition 3,000 yards south behind the Demilitarized Zone, fired their howitzers and Browning automatic rifles into the air.
``I was glad it was over,'' said Shea, a private first class in the First Marine Division in Panmunjom. ``We fired all the ammunition we had. It was like the Fourth of July.''
Veterans across the Santa Clarita Valley recalled those and other war stories in honor of Americans who served their country in the armed forces. They also described the modern-day battles they face as federal and state governments reduce educational and medical benefits for veterans.
``It's becoming more and more difficult to obtain the entitlements we were promised when we signed on,'' said John Olesh, a former heavy equipment operator in the Navy Seabees who served two years in the Vietnam War. ``We're seeing a lot of cost-cutting measures that's going to cut into VA loans.''
On Monday, veterans at American Legion Post 507 in Newhall lowered the flag to half staff and described the significance of Veterans Day. Jim Martin, a former Army specialist stationed in Pusan, South Korea, said the holiday means continued service to his community.
``If you served the country, you serve your neighborhood in the same way,'' he said, noting the American Legion's donations to nonprofit organizations for the disabled, young and elderly. ``Serving your community is like serving yourself.''
At the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6110, former soldiers recalled the living and the dead.
``It's recognition of all veterans, not only the ones who died but those who suffered injuries,'' said Joe Domke, former Army specialist who was shot in the knee while serving in Vietnam from 1960 to 1961. ``They were given orders to do a job, and they did their job.''
Photo: (color) Lupe Caballero kneels by her husband's grave near the veterans memorial at Eternal Valley cemetery.
Shaun Dyer/Special to the Daily News
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Nov 12, 1996|
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