BRADENTON — Some served in World War II, others in the Korean War or in Vietnam. Now all are in wheelchairs, some with fading memories, all with the frailties of age.
But a display case in the lobby at Casa Mora Rehabilitation and Extended Care, 1902 59th St. W., captured them in uniform in the full bloom of their youth and vigor.
For Memorial Day, Jerry Bobier, Casa Mora’s maintenance director, wanted to do something special for the 25 veterans who are residents there.
He built a display case and gathered photos and other memorabilia from residents and family members, and prepared a brief Memorial Day address. He recruited the Marine Corps League to raise the American flag, and a bugler to play taps.
Gloria Wellington, an Army nurse during the Vietnam War and Casa Mora resident, said the service Sunday was beautiful.
“It brought tears to my eyes,” she said.
Bobier, himself a Marine veteran of Vietnam, thanked the vets for their service and urged all to reflect on those who sacrificed and served without question, when the defense of freedom called for it.
Alfred Wolkenburg, 86, served in the U.S. Army during the invasion of Japanese-occupied Kiska, an island in the Aleutian chain.
Later, he was in the Philippines, awaiting the invasion of Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
“Three months later, I was walking around Hiroshima on occupation duty,” Wolkenburg said.
From where he sat, Wolkenburg couldn’t quite see where the music was coming from when taps played Sunday.
“Was it a recording? Wolkenburg wanted to know.
No, someone told him, it was a live bugler.
“He did a beautiful job,” Wolkenburg said.
James A. Jones Jr., editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.