September 23, 2014

Medina
Sunny
63°F

Medina County veterans get salute at this year’s county fair

Director of Medina County Veterans Services Edward Zackery interviews World War II veteran Ralph E. Waite, of Medina, about his service in the 99th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. (KATIE ANDERSON / GAZETTE)

Director of Medina County Veterans Services Edward Zackery interviews World War II veteran Ralph E. Waite, of Medina, about his service in the 99th Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. (KATIE ANDERSON / GAZETTE)

Seven decades ago, Ralph E. Waite, of Medina, took a trip on the famous ocean liner Queen Mary.

It wasn’t a pleasure cruise.

Waite was one of 15,000 young American soldiers ferried across the Atlantic to fight in the European Theater of World War II.

Waite was in the 99th Infantry Division and fought in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge.

“One-third of the division was either captured or killed,” he said.

Nearly 70 years later, the 88-year-old Waite joined fellow veterans at the Medina County Fair for the fair’s Veterans’ Day activities on Monday.

Veterans had free admittance and cake Monday. Twelve veterans organizations from around the county had booths set up under the pavilion, distributing information for and about veterans.

Edward Zackery, director of Medina County Veterans Services, said a new feature to the annual Veterans’ Day event was television interviews of several veterans that will air in September on a monthly show, “Salute to Service,” on Brunswick-area station Gov 20.

Waite was an obvious choice to be interviewed. He was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame in 2007.

Following his service in World War II, Waite returned to Medina to his family’s business, the Waite and Sons Funeral Home. He was active in numerous civic groups, including Boy Scouts, Buckeye Boys State, and Rotary. He served twice as commander of American Legion Post 202 and also is a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 5137 and Medina AMVETS Post 1990. He also served on the Honor Guard at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman and on the Medina County Veterans Service Commission.

Waite also was a member of the Medina City Board of Education from 1966 to 1974. Ralph E. Waite Elementary School is named in his honor.

“Medina is a great community to live in for our veterans,” Zackery said. “This allows us to recognize our veterans by having a day for them, and that’s really important.”

At the fair on Monday, veterans saluted while a Medina High School singing group, Sirens, performed the national anthem. The group also performed several other patriotic songs that some veterans sang along to.

“They’ve done so much,” group leader and junior at Medina High School Megan Hascher said. “Singing patriotic songs is just something small that we can do for them.”

Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or kanderson@medina-gazette.com.