Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars leads annual Veterans Day celebration

November 11, 2011

By Tom Corrigan

Issaquah High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps members present a 21-gun salute to close the Veterans Day celebration at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center on Friday. By Tom Corrigan

NEW — 1:19 p.m. Nov. 11, 2011

A World War II Navy veteran, Paul Miller has been through his share of Veterans Day celebrations.

Not surprisingly, he still thinks those remembrances are important and worthwhile.

“We need to pay our respects and honor those who have served and … especially those who made that ultimate sacrifice,” he said following a roughly 45-minute commemoration at the Issaquah Valley Senior Center on Veterans Day.

The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute provided by the Issaquah High School Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

“Veterans do not take life for granted,” said veteran and Issaquah City Councilman Fred Butler, who presented the keynote talk during the event.

“They know that duty and sacrifice are more than words,” Butler continued.

With those thoughts no doubt in mind, Butler said the country has a new breed of veterans in those returning from often multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Too many veterans with real skills cannot find jobs in this economy,” he said.

He urged those listening to get to know those new veterans and help and hire them if possible.

Led by the post’s David Waggoner, Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3436 presented the Veterans Day event. For his part, Waggoner’s talk highlighted an Issaquah vet he believes deserves more attention then she has gotten so far.

Jayne Elizabeth Erickson is one of 19 local veterans who died while in the service and who are listed on the memorial just outside the senior center.

Killed at age 22 while training to be a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, Erickson is the only woman on the memorial.

According to Waggoner, Erickson died in April 1944 while trying to take off for what would have been her second solo flight. Her plane collided with another and Waggoner said Erickson never had a chance to eject from her plane.

After noting some big discrepancies in the treatment of female veterans at the time Erickson died, Waggoner said other WASPs actually had to take up a collection to send Erickson’s body back to Issaquah. Though she had lived in Issaquah, Erickson was buried in Seattle with no flag on her coffin and no military honors. That apparent snub rankles Waggoner, who vowed the VFW would correct that mistake.

“We gotta make that right,” he said.

On another front, as has become customary, Waggoner and the VFW intend to supply the city with new flags for municipal flagpoles. Waggoner said the city only needs to replace four of its flags this year, but promised the VFW would continue to ensure that, as long as there are U.S. military personnel serving in harm’s way, the city’s U.S. flags would “fly clean and bright.”

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