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Jim Jones' Eastword column: Little scraps of paper at South Manatee Library mean a lot

George Staudt goes to the South Manatee Library several times a week to use the computer.

Recently, he noticed several people, including teens and younger children, intently reading scraps of paper on the walls of the library at 6081 26th St. W., Bradenton.

Staudt learned the library had invited vets to take a piece of paper and post some of their recollections there.

Nice gesture by the South Manatee Library, and I'm certain those notes make some interesting reading.

Staudt, who flew 34 missions for the U.S. Air Force as a gunner on a B-26 bomber during the Korean War, is among those who decided to leave a note.

Staudt can tell you some hair-raising stories about those missions, all flown at night. On one such mission, the B-26 dropped its bombs and the pilot decided to take the plane down to tree-top level to strafe trucks with .50 caliber machine guns.

The B-26 went low enough that it hit something and knocked out an engine. But the crew was able to safely make it back to Pusan.

His Korean War missions did not end until the day of the cease-fire.

"They stopped fighting and that made us all happy," Staudt said.

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The United States will observe Memorial Day later this month, remembering those who lost their lives in war.

Earlier this week, I attended a Heroes Without Family service at Sarasota National Cemetery.

Navy veterans Alva Frederick Bonds Jr. and Andrew J. Thompson had died without families or friends to say a few words over them.

I could not help but wonder about some of the stories that Alva and Andrew might have shared about their time in uniform. But those details are now lost, and little is known about the men other than their names, ranks and time of service.

Members of the Knights of Columbus, the Patriotic Guard Riders, the U.S. Navy, cemetery staff and a Tidewell Hospice chaplain, however, made sure that the vets were given a respectful, dignified funeral.

It's touching to see those taking part in the service place their hands on the caskets or stop for a final salute.

Heroes Without Family ensures that vets who die alone, indigent or homeless, have a proper funeral.

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A Memorial Day observance is planned 1:30 p.m. May 27 at Sarasota National Cemetery with family members of Spc. 4 Patrick Lay of Bradenton and Lance Cpl. Nathaniel L. Schultz of Riverview expected to take part. Both men were killed in Afghanistan and are interred at the cemetery.

Also planned for Memorial Day:

n Service at 9 a.m. May 28 at the Veterans Memorial near Manatee Memorial Hospital.

n Riders gather at 8 a.m. May 28 for salute to honor of Bradenton's Lt. Kirby Pelot Stewart, the namesake of the oldest American Legion Post in Manatee County. The Kirby Stewart Post 24 Honor Guard, along with the Post 24 Legion Riders, will go to a memorial service at Lt. Stewart's gravesite at Fogertyville Cemetery, 4200 Third Ave. NW., Bradenton.

Upon completion of the service, riders will return in procession back to the post for a second memorial service at 11 a.m. A $5 per plate lunch will be served afterward.

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Have another Memorial Date we haven't listed here? Let me know and we'll share your news.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet@jajones1.