Several FUMC veterans and their spouses were able to visit Knight Point Systems (KPS) LLC, a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business (SDVOSB). KPS is a strong supporter of our Military Veteran Ministry at FUMC. President Bob Eisminger, the owner and a West Point Graduate, attended. Doug Duenkel, COO also attended along with 30 or so employees from the headquarters office. The veterans who attended were John Swart and Richard Johnson, WWII; Ed McMeans and John Smith, Vietnam. Dixon Hemphill and Walt Morris were unable to attend at last minute due to traffic issues slowing Dixon and a “new walker” that hadn’t been test driven by Walt.
The time we spent at KPS was very enjoyable by both KPS staff and FUMC guests. During the first hour, we made a presentation to bring KPS up to date on our support for WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans. We talked about the six programs FUMC provides for Veterans:
- Limousine and Lunch
- Wolf Trap Events
- Credit Cards, Diapers, etc.
- Veteran Luncheons and Discussions
- Veterans Celebrations
- Congregational Care
The Oral History Film featuring our WWII Vets stories was shown, followed by a wonderful luncheon where we all had a chance for fellowship. Many war stories were shared and appreciated. It was a special time for all.
- Walt Sigrist, dressed as a farmer, has won the best costume at the VFW Halloween parties for the past three years. His daughters, mainly Judy, are responsible for his outfits, both for Halloween and otherwise! Walt will be 94 this summer and hopes to win his fourth “Best Costume” this Halloween at the VFW. He plans to dress as Caitlyn Jenner! We suspect he will WIN again for his 4th title!
- Buck Shelton passed on July 7, 2015. His wife Nancy received a certificate from the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States in January 2016 recognizing Buck’s service.
Fairfax United Methodist Church World War II veterans were invited by the County of Arlington Aurora Library to support their Pearl Harbor Day remembrance on December 7, 2015.
FUMC presented the stories of their 25 WWII Veterans through the showing of the FUMC WWII Veteran Oral History DVD. FUMC Vets received an energetic round of applause after our WWII Vet Oral History DVD was shown. We received several requests to purchase a DVD and book/addendum.
Also presenting at the event was a representative of the Library of Congress who talked about the importance of recording the stories of WWII Veterans while there is still time to do so. The event was attended by over 45 people including local representative Heather Muller, Branch Manager, Arlington Public Library; Susan McCarthy, Division Chief, Arlington Public Library; Libby Garvey, Arlington County Board member; and Leidy Perez-Davis, Director of Outreach for Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr.
After the presentations, the audience mixed with the WWII Vets and chatted about the importance of documenting our Veterans’ Stories.
Five of our WWII Veterans were able to attend. US Army – Bill Hilbrink and wife Patricia, and Richard Johnson and wife Bonnie. US Navy – Dixon Hemphill. Also attending were Ed McMeans and wife Kerryn, FUMC Military Ministry. The limo ride to/from the Aurora Arlington Library was special. Kerryn brought Champagne, Sparkling Apple Cider, and a plate with a mixed variety of cookies. The limo provided wine and champagne glasses as well as ice and bottled water. We had a great time of fellowship on the return trip from the event… the goodies added to the fun!
On a cold and windy day, the City of Fairfax held their annual Veteran’s Day remembrance in front of the Fairfax City Hall. The rain had made the traditional Veteran’s Rotunda site too muddy.
The event was supported by the Fairfax American Legion Post 177 color guard and bugler. The VFW Post 8469 Commander Walt Sweeney presided. Commander Sweeney was joined by Fairfax Mayor Silverthorne, State Senator Peterson and Congressman Connelly. A highlight of the event was the posthumous presentation of a Certificate of Appreciation to FUMC’s Buck Shelton for his WWII Service at the Battle of the Bulge and for his community service. His wife Nancy accepted the certificate for Buck who had recently passed. Many of Buck’s family and friends and fellow Veterans attended.
Fairfax City Museum and Visitor Center honored the service of area World War II veterans during a joint program with the Fairfax United Methodist Church (FUMC) on Sunday, August 9, 2015 at the Civil War Interpretive Center at Historic Blenheim.
Introducing the program, Susan Inskeep Gray, Curator/Visitor Manager with the City of Fairfax City’s Office of Historic Resources thanked the 18 FUMC Vets and their families and 2 other Fairfax veterans in attendance for their wartime service and their contributions to the Fairfax community following their service in WWII.
Fairfax City Councilman David Meyer offered reflections on his parent’s lives during World War II and also paid tribute to the veterans in the audience and their family members and caregivers.
Fairfax City Treasurer, Tom Scibilia also attended and had this to say about the event, “I didn’t think it possible that I could respect these local veterans more than I already did, but this presentation made it so. Their stories are perfect examples of ordinary men, and woman, doing extraordinary things when called by their country. They left the family farm, put professional sports careers on hold, and put off college. Pretty remarkable. I’ve known many of these folks for a long time and didn’t know their story. I’m glad Ed McMeans gave us this gift. Everyone should see this film, especially if you’re a member of FUMC. I guarantee you’ll see these folks you see in the same pew, every Sunday, much differently than you did before.”
The program was provided by Ed McMeans, coordinator of the FUMC’s effort to honor its WWII Veterans and to record these Veterans Oral History. He reviewed the background and goals of the project. The stories and remembrances profiling each FUMC WWII Veteran, McMeans said, have been recorded in both a history book and most recently in a film. Additionally, in order to save these remembrances for posterity and for the benefit of future generations, a 4ft by 7 ft historical archive was designed and built encapsulating the stories of all FUMC WWII Veterans. The Historical Archive, presently in the FUMC Fellowship Hall, will be relocated to the Fairfax Museum at an appropriate time. McMeans quizzed the audience on WWII related topics presenting an encapsulated history of World War II before introducing the film World War II Veterans’ Reflections on their World War II Experience. Following the film screening, Fairfax native Delbert “Bill” Sheads shared remembrances of his service with an armored division in Europe. He was particularly thankful for the dropping of the Atomic bombs which saved millions of lives, including his, by preventing the invasion of the Japanese mainland.
About 60 people attended the program including both Fairfax area citizens and veterans as well as FUMC veterans, friends and families. Many veterans profiled in the film attended as did their families.
To conclude the tribute program, Gray thanked McMeans and the Fairfax United Methodist Church for their efforts and urged other religious and community organizations to record the experiences and services of other Fairfax World War II veterans.
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Honor WWII Veterans on the 70th Anniversary of V-E Day
Fairfax County Supervisors did a wonderful job yesterday honoring WWII Veterans and the contingent of WWII Veterans from FUMC that attended.
We all pledged the Allegiance to the Flag Under God, heard prayer requests for veterans and saluted the Color Guard from Fairfax Legion Post 177. Most of the Supervisors commented about WWII and WWII Veterans. Each of the attending Veterans were given some time to speak.
- Presentation of the Colors by the Color Guard from American Legion Fairfax Post 177 Fairfax, Virginia
- Resolution: To recognize the veterans of World War II for their courage, contributions and service to defend the ideals of America. Requested by Supervisor Cook.
FUMC World War II Veterans Tribute
On Thursday evening September 11, 2014, Fairfax United Methodist Church (FUMC) held an evening of tribute to its 20 current WWII Veterans. Lead pastor, Tim Gerde, spoke of how amazed he was to identify 20 veterans within the congregation when, based on the proportion of surviving WWII Veterans in the general population, FUMC should have had 3 or 4. For the event, a book paying Tribute to FUMC WWII Veterans was compiled after an extensive interview with each veteran and family members telling their “story” of WWII military experiences and post military contributions.
The dinner sold out early. With background music provided by “Men of Message”, the veterans enjoyed spending time catching up and reminiscing amidst fellow veterans, family and friends. After dinner, those assembled moved to the church sanctuary where over 200 people settled in for the program consisting of service related music, a reading from Tom Brokaw’s book, the Greatest Generation, an especially touching poem written by a member of the congregation, and maps of the European and Pacific theaters pinpointing locations where the Veterans served.
Then, highlights of each of FUMC WWII veteran’s story were featured. As members of the Army, Army Air Corps, Navy and Marines these men and woman served: on the front lines on Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge; in the Atlantic and Pacific supporting island landings, sea battles and ship escort duties; in the bombings of the Axis Powers in Europe – one air crew flew the last bombing mission of the war; and in the Pacific ‘island hopping’ amidst such noted battles as Tinian, Iwo Jima, and Saipan. Equally important were those who performed vital support roles such in transportation, front line hospitals and triage/surgery units, special and secret missions; occupation duty in Germany and Japan; and many other support functions without which any mission would likely fail. For their dedication and valor, these WWII veterans received numerous awards such as Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars, Air Medals, Combat Infantry Badges, Presidential Unit Citations, the WWII Victory Medal and many others.
One of the vets, Bob Lear, had been hospitalized just prior to the event and could not attend. Bob passed away on September 13th and a memorial page dedicated to him was written and added as a addendum to the Tribute Book.
We experienced a surprise after the WWII Tribute event. We learned of a 21st WWII Veteran from FUMC, Barnie Jennings. His story and is being compiled and it will be added to the book as part of an addendum. What we know so far is: gunner on a bomber in the Army Air Corps serving in the Pacific Theater; birthday August 02, 1925; retired Senior Circuit Court Judge Fairfax—–the Jennings building in Fairfax is named for him; member of Rotary for many years and is a Paul Harris Fellow and Past President of the Fairfax Rotary Club. He has been a member of FUMC for many years; wife is Nancy Lee.
We have received many verbal and written compliments about the event and the WWII Veteran Tribute Book telling the WWII story of each of the 20 FUMC veterans. For example, we recently received a phone call from the wife of a FUMC WWII Veteran. She was so exuberantly happy about the book and how it helped rekindle good memories within her family. She specifically mentioned reading about another FUMC WWII Veteran in the book whose wife was from the same mid west town as she. She has called her and now has a new friend! This is typical of the compliments received about the event and the book.
The members of FUMC were greatly humbled to be able to gather and honor these amazing individuals who, through their service and sacrifice, have allowed the generations who followed them to ‘stand on their shoulders’.