American Legion Post 16 honors those lost in war
Allen O. Delke Post 16 American Legion of Slatington recently had a memorial service at Union Cemetery, Slatington.
The service began with a parade from the Legion Post to the cemetery. Boy, Cub and Girl Scouts were marching with the Legion members.
Slatington High School band, under the direction of David Carroll, played several numbers.
Charles Rowlands was honored as the oldest Post member at age 97 with 76 years of membership.
Henry Distler of St. John’s UCC gave the invocation.
Master of Ceremonies Dennis Ziegler told those gathered the POW/MIA empty chair in front of the stage was a symbol of all military members who are unaccounted for.
Distler said in prayer that Memorial Day gives everyone an opportunity to do good and remember all who served. Through God’s grace may they be remembered always.
Slatington Mayor Walter Niedermeyer said they commemorate those who laid down their lives.
“No words or condolences can replace the brothers and sisters who left their community and took it upon themselves to fight for us,” he said.
“Today we know how to honor them by keeping them in our hearts.”
Ziegler introduced the principal speaker, Rear Admiral David Kunkel, U.S. Coast Guard.
He was raised in Allentown and graduated from Kutztown State College.
Immediately after that, Kunkel joined the Coast Guard. He earned his wings in Pensacola, Fla. In 1975 he was designated a Coast Guard aviator. He was promoted to rear admiral of the Seventh District.
“Memorial Day is the most cherished of services,” Kunkel said. “It was known as Decoration Day to honor the dead. The meaning is the same, only the name changed.”
He stressed freedom isn’t free.
“We remember those in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard for giving their all,” he said.
“The Coast Guard, a part of the home service, transfers to the Department of Defense under Naval command in time of war.
The Coast Guard is 43,000 strong but during World War II it had 241,000 members.
He told of some of the honored Coast Guard members he knew.
Kunkel said Marine Douglas Munro was on Guadalcanal to rescue his fellow Marines from a larger Japanese force.
All went well until the final contingent was loaded. He maneuvered his boat to rescue the last man and received a fatal wound but managed to ask, “Did they all get off?”
John Pritchard Jr. and Benjamin Buttons attempted a rescue of an Army B-17 that force landed on a Greenland ice cap. The next day they went back for more of the downed crewmen and was never heard from again.
The B-17 was buried under 40-feet of ice. After 70 years, it is believed the plane has been found and attempts will be made to bring the crew home.
Jack Rittichier flew a rescue helicopter in Vietnam, an HH-3E. He swept the terrain trying to rescue a downed and wounded pilot when his aircraft caught fire.
In 2002, Jolly Green, 23, was found near the crash site. He was brought home and buried at Arlington.
Nathan Bruckenthal was protecting the Khawi Al oil terminal in Iraq. A boarding team’s inflatable flipped and killed him and his crew.
Navy Lt. Rick Caesar was flying an ice patrol along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers when he struck an electrical transmission line. The plane fell into the river.
Bob Carson transferred to Kodiak, Alaska, and was trying to evacuate a wounded man who had head injuries. Ice blocked the engine and he and his crew of five crashed into a mountain.
“Let me leave you with a few facts,” Kunkel said. “Only 1 percent of the population serve.
“In Congress, those who served are at an all-time low. No one is left alive from World War I. Sadly, most want to forget Vietnam.
“The celebration reaffirms our enthusiasm and faith. Thanks to the unselfish service today, we can continue to be free.”
David Altrichter and Mark Queen placed a wreath on the grave of Allen O. Delke, Pvt. Co. 1314 Div.; May 30, 1887- Nov. 2, 1918, who died in France.
“We are grateful for your protection and guidance,” Distler prayed. “We pray for your blessings to stay with them.”