Ceremony recognizes local veterans’ service

November 16, 2010

By David Hayes

Never forget.

The theme was reiterated throughout the annual Veterans Day ceremony at City Hall Nov. 11, hosted by the Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3436.

Dave Waggoner, the master of ceremonies, began by asking the 20 or so veterans present, scattered about the filled-to-capacity Eagle Room, to stand and be recognized for their service to their country, from World War II to present day.

Tribute was given to two Issaquah residents who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country. Marilyn Batura fought back tears sharing her brother George Larsen’s tale. His life as a goat herder in Issaquah on the family farm was cut short, when shortly after unselfishly joining the Army at the onset of World War II, he was one of thousands killed in the battle to retake Okinawa.

His name appears on the monument with 18 other names at Issaquah’s Veterans Memorial Field. Along with Emmett “Skip” McDonald, who was memorialized at the ceremony by classmate Linda Hjelm.

“You can walk past that memorial and see those 19 names, yet not know any of their stories,” she said.

She recounted how Skip — “Only his mother called him Emmett,” she said — was one of dozens of Vietnam pilots and crew shot down and killed or captured trying to destroy the Thanh Hoa Railroad and Highway Bridge — The Dragon’s Jaw — a high-value strategic target spanning the Song Ma River.

During her presentation, Hjelm shared a black-and-white picture of McDonald from first grade that portrayed a sparkling gleam in his eyes.

Although McDonald’s remains have never returned from Vietnam, Hjelm said she hoped her tale would keep his legacy alive within Issaquah.

“His sparkling eyes have never been forgotten,” she said after the ceremony.

Waggoner finished by presenting 10 new flags to City Councilwoman Eileen Barber. The donation by the VFW post ensures “as long as local boys from Issaquah are fighting in harm’s way, we won’t forget to honor their service,” Waggoner said.

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