The City of Vandalia is fortunate to have so many brave men and women that have stepped up over the years in service to their country. As Veteran’s Day approaches, make it a point to thank our local heros. It is because of their dedication and sacrifice, that we are able to enjoy our freedom on a daily basis.
The fighting of World War I between the Allied nations and Germany ended when an armistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month was agreed upon. President Woodrow Wilson later proclaimed Armistice Day for November 11, 1919.
A Congressional Act signed on May 13, 1938, designated November 11 a legal holiday. On June 1, 1954, Congress amended the original act by changing the name from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.
World War II
The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the morning of December 7, 1941 led to the United States’ involvement in World War II.
Earl Cordry, of Vandalia, was drafted in World War II, worked in supply and part-time as a physicians assistant. Cordry served three years in the U.S. Army from 1943-1946 and was stationed at Chernofski Harbor in the Aleutian Islands.
“Something I remember is that we were the supply harbor for Umnak Island. However, the muskeg surface was so soggy that they had to make it solid somehow. They found out about some metal perforated interlocking plates on the sands of Africa, and so they gave it a try and it worked like a charm. Also, with the ice cold Bering Sea and the warm Pacific Ocean, you had rain, snow, sleet all the time,” Earl Cordry said.
The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, and continued until July 27, 1953. The war often viewed as more of a conflict, was considered to be an American goodwill policing action. Calling it a conflict was done in order to avoid the necessity of a declaration of war by the U.S. Congress.
Officially, the longest war in U.S. history is the Vietnam War. The United States got involved hoping to stop the spread of communism, in spite of mixed views from the Americans far and wide.
However, on March 2, 1965, American military aircraft began bombing targets in Vietnam and troops were on the ground and fully engaged in battle. More than 500,000 U.S. military personnel were involved in the Vietnam war, up until President Richard Nixon withdrew all troops in 1973. Sadly, more than 58,000 Americans were killed and 300,000 were wounded in an effort to stop communism.
Larry Shaw, of Vandalia, was a member of both the U.S. Navy and the Air Force. Shaw served in Saigon and Da Nang during the Vietnam War. When he returned to the United States, he was stationed in San Diego, Calif. Shaw also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired as a Tech Sergeant (E-6) from the Air Force after 23 years of military service.
“There was good times and bad. I was at Da Nang Airbase during the Tet Offensive of 1967-68. There were two others from the Navy, one from the Philippines, and one from an engine buildup unit in Guam. We were chosen to go into Da Nang to take care of Navy aircraft that bingoed, other words, they left the aircraft and couldn’t make it back. The Agent Orange crew was at that base, along with F-105 crews that flew in the valley up to Hanoi. It was a big base with a lot going on,” Larry Shaw said.
Larry Anderson, of Vandalia, served in U.S. Army for two years. Nine month and 16 days of that was spent in Vietnam.
“I got hit in the side and a piece of shrapnel got stuck in my liver. I was bleeding on the inside, so they cut me open and got the bleeding to stop and sewed me back up. There is still shrapnel in my liver today, because they didn’t have the technology to take care of it in 1969. So I have been very lucky,” Anderson said.
Anderson served as the point man on a reconnaissance team that saw plenty of action up close. He also indicated that he always prayed that he would make it back safely to the real world and even met his guardian angel.
Anderson reached the rank of Sergeant (E-5) and was also awarded the Purple Heart Medal for being wounded in action.
Jessica Colak (McCurdy), formerly of Vandalia, is currently serving in the United States Air Force as a Aircraft Load Planner. Colak was recently promoted to Staff Sergeant (E-5).
Along with the Airman Leadership School, she has also recently completed Hazmat Inspector training.
Her late father, Lee McCurdy, served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. Her older sister, Anita McCurdy, also served in the Air Force for 13 years.
Colak has been deployed to Turkey, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. She is currently stationed at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif.