News From Terre Haute, Indiana


November 12, 2013

Veterans recall sacrifices, unique experiences

TERRE HAUTE — The lobby of Terre Haute’s Westminster Village retirement community is decorated for Veterans Day with scores of framed black-and-white photographs of residents from younger days. They are pictured wearing sharp-looking military uniforms, sly smiles or brash expressions.

Four veterans spoke Tuesday night with the Tribune-Star just before attending the Westminster Village annual Veterans Day program. Three served in World War II, all in the South Pacific. A fourth, Jean Graf, served at home.

Military service in the South Pacific involved gazing out on vast oceans, long journeys by ship, fighting malaria and mosquitos and fierce jungle combat. The rules of war didn’t always apply, the vets recalled. One Japanese prisoner boasted of killing lots of Americans just before he was shot by one of his captors. In another case, Japanese forces fired on a hospital ship, sinking it and killing the wounded on board. When those same Japanese attempted to surrender, they were mowed down in retaliation.

“We learned a lot of things that saved our lives,” recalled Eli Skorich, an Army veteran who was wounded three different times in more than three years in the South Pacific. At Guadalcanal, one of the most important campaigns, Skorich said enemy forces would shoot Americans they had lured into the open by shouting “Johnny, help me.” Or a sniper would pretend to be shot, drop a false weapon out of a tree and then open fire when the Americans emerged from cover.

Memories of the war become clearer with each passing year, Skorich said. He thinks of his buddies who were killed. “I think about that a lot. It’s been a long time, but it doesn’t leave your mind.”

Ed Llewellyn was in the Army paratroopers. He was part of the invasion of the Philippines and recalls when a grenade landed near his foxhole. A foot closer and he would have been killed, he said.

A small piece of shrapnel embedded in Llewellyn’s leg, leaving a scar that’s still there. A buddy, from the same blast, took about 15 pieces of shrapnel in his rear. Llewellyn’s buddy refused a Purple Heart, not wanting to go through the rest of his life explaining the injury. Llewellyn, who was much less seriously injured, said he also turned down the Purple Heart.

“He deserved it much more than I did,” Llewellyn said, adding that, in hindsight, he should have taken the medal as it would have allowed him to be discharged six months sooner. “It was the dumbest thing I ever did,” he said, laughing.

George Graesch, a Marine, was present at Iwo Jima when U.S. forces famously raised a flag over the island on Mount Suribachi.

“You never heard such a sound in your life,” Graesch recalled. Troops fired guns into the air, cheered and rang bells. It was the first encouraging event in the long and costly Iwo Jima campaign, he said.

Jean Graf served in the Navy during the Korean War at a military dependents’ hospital north of Chicago. Working in the maternity ward, she helped the wives of servicemen deliver children, mostly while their husbands were overseas. It was a difficult time for these young mothers to be without their husbands, Graf recalled.

“I always felt God gave me the words to say,” Graf said of those sad times when babies didn’t survive. At other times, she helped provide support to young mothers who were often totally alone.

“I could be the family that they didn’t have there,” Graf said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Mother of 2 Makes NFL Cheerleading Squad at 40 Judge OKs Record-setting $2B Sale of Clipper Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. Trial Begins Over OKC Bombing Video Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Suspect Dead, Marshals and Cop Wounded in NYC 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now!

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010

Real Estate News