Vincent D. Scebbi
MEDINA TWP. — Navy veteran Raymond Linden says he was fortunate during World War II.
Despite participating in five invasion missions in the Pacific Theatre, including encountering kamikazes in the Philippines, the Medina resident was never wounded.
For Bill Hurlburt, his time in the armed forces influenced his life in a positive way.
“The Navy was good to me,” Hurlburt said. “Even in the ’60s, you were given opportunities to go to schools.”
Hurlburt was a graduate student at Columbia University studying hospital administration when he was drafted into the Army. To avoid being a foot soldier, he joined the Navy.
After leaving the military, he settled in Medina and now lives at the Western Reserve Masonic Community.
Hurlburt and Linden were among about 100 Medina County veterans honored during a recognition ceremony Friday at Weymouth Country Club.
Arthur Saunders, a member of World War II’s Tuskegee Airmen, the first group of African-American fighter pilots, was the guest speaker at the ceremony.
The airmen, Saunders said, faced racial segregation and persecution, but the Tuskegee 332nd Fighter Group, nicknamed the “Red Tailed Angels,” was one of the most successful squadrons in the Army Air Corps.
Friday’s event was sponsored by Medina Hospital, Forest Meadow Villas, Life Care Center in Liverpool Township, Medical Service Co., Carlson Transport Service, attorney Marie Mirro Edmonds, Elmcroft of Medina and Hospice of the Western Reserve.
“It’s great to see all of our efforts come together,” said Heather Gerspacher, a member of the planning committee from Forest Meadow. “I’m proud to be a sponsor.”
Nathan Gradisher, professional relations coordinator for Hospice of the Western Reserve, said one out of every four deaths in the United States is a veteran.
“We’re seeing a growing number of veterans enter hospice care, younger veterans from Korea, Vietnam, even the Gulf wars, as well as those who served in peace,” he said.
Susan Figula, chief marketing and communications officer for Hospice of the Western Reserve, said most veterans don’t know what entitlements are available to them.
Gradisher said he’s known veterans who had stories and memories to share, but thought no one would listen. To help, there are veterans who volunteer to talk to hospice patients, he said.
“We can learn about it in classrooms, but having been there is a big difference,” Gradisher said.
Willie Springer, who served in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969, does something similar for veterans coming home from recent conflicts.
After clearing more than 100,000 acres of jungle in Vietnam, Springer attended seminary school and became a deacon at Second Baptist Church in Medina.
“The attitude and mind are wounded,” said Springer, who is the chaplain at American Legion Post 234 in Brunswick. “We need an opportunity to have a healing experience.”
Contact Vincent D. Scebbi at (330) 721-4050 or firstname.lastname@example.org.