Lest We Forget 2014

May 21, 2014

Fortunate son

May 21, 2014

Randy Harrison emerged from the Vietnam War unscathed, but with a new appreciation for life

By David Hayes Randy Harrison hugs his dog Burfoot inside his Squak Mountain home. Over his shoulder is a print commemorating one of Harrison’s missions that went wrong yet garnered a Congressional Medal of Honor for helicopter pilot James Fleming, who evacuated Harrison’s squad under heavy fire from North Vietnamese.

By David Hayes
Randy Harrison hugs his dog Burfoot inside his Squak Mountain home. Over his shoulder is a print commemorating one of Harrison’s missions that went wrong yet garnered a Congressional Medal of Honor for helicopter pilot James Fleming, who evacuated Harrison’s squad under heavy fire from North Vietnamese.

Randy Harrison is fascinated by history.

The well-read, 69-year-old Squak Mountain resident is especially interested in Homer’s “The Iliad.”

“Everybody knows about Achilles, Ajax, Agamemnon and Paris. All the characters you hear about,” Harrison said. “Every now and then, if you read Homer, there’s one guy mentioned, one soldier who did something, not the big characters.

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German POW earned freedom, three degrees

May 21, 2014

Col. William Geil has a great memory — though he says it’s hard to forget getting captured by Germans behind enemy lines.

The 89-year-old Squak Mountain resident has seen his fair share of service in a career spanning more than three decades. He served overseas in World War II and two tours in Vietnam. His time in the United States Air Force is only made more impressive by the three degrees he earned outside the military. Still, he plays it humble.

“I don’t like bragging,” Geil said about his time as a prisoner of war. Speaking plainly, he said he didn’t find it anything worth bragging about. “I had a cousin that finished 25 missions, while I finished my time in the war in a prison camp.”

William Geil

William Geil

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Marine Corps, Vietnam shaped Jerry Pearson’s servant nature

May 21, 2014

In a small box that’s usually tucked away in his home library, Issaquah attorney Jerry Pearson has several keepsakes from his three-year stint in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Among the items are a set of dog tags made to commemorate three of his fellow Marines; a brass dragon head he found in a village; and the two Purple Hearts he was awarded for combat-related wounds in Vietnam.

The dragon head, in particular, brings back a flood of memories for Pearson, who was born in Seattle before moving to Issaquah as a small child in 1951. He associates it with Ron Dexter and Lester Bell, two members of the Fifth Marine Division who were shipped to the jungles of Southeast Asia and never came home.

By Neil Pierson Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, surrounded by legal texts at his Pearson Law Firm office, is more than 40 years removed from his duties as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

By Neil Pierson
Issaquah native Jerry Pearson, surrounded by legal texts at his Pearson Law Firm office, is more than 40 years removed from his duties as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

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Issaquah veteran recalls the sacrifices

May 21, 2014

Dag Garrett knew he wanted to fly.

It’s why during the tail end of World War II, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps as a fresh-faced 18-year-old.

Over the course of a year, Garrett transformed into a well-versed navigator, more than eager to hit the skies in support of his country.

By Christina Corrales-Toy Dag Garrett holds a poster of newspaper clippings and photographs from his stranded-at-sea ordeal in 1947.

By Christina Corrales-Toy
Dag Garrett holds a poster of newspaper clippings and photographs from his stranded-at-sea ordeal in 1947.

He would have to wait though, because just as he was about to deploy, the war came to an end.

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Brave ship remembered by brave man

May 21, 2014

World War II veteran Hugh Preston was in the U.S. Navy well before he should have been.

“He went behind his father’s back and enlisted and came back and said, ‘I’m gone,’” his daughter Isabella Tobiason said. “He wanted to serve. He wanted to fight for his country.”

He was just 17.

Photos contributed The Aaron Ward III is shown in photos before it was bombed (above) and after (right).

Photos contributed
The Aaron Ward III is shown in photos before it was bombed (above) and after (right).

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Bomber pilot shares vivid memories of POW camp, raids over Japan

May 22, 2013

Richard Murphy is at a difficult age.

At 90 years old, he can still remember the pain in his leg from the crash-landing on Sakhalin Island in December 1944. He still remembers his crew sitting down to dinner with their Russian captors while they were being held as prisoners of war.

Murphy is also aware that the early stages of dementia have taken away his ability to remember what type of plane he flew, who operated the POW camp, his rank or how he escaped. He becomes frustrated when he is unable to recall his wife’s name or how many children they had together.

By Greg Farrar Richard Murphy (left), wearing his bomber jacket and Army Air Corps cap, and his son Kevin share one of their get-togethers with a visit at Spiritwood Retirement Community at Pine Lake.

By Greg Farrar
Richard Murphy (left), wearing his bomber jacket and Army Air Corps cap, and his son Kevin share one of their get-togethers with a visit at Spiritwood Retirement Community at Pine Lake.

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STILL PAYING TRIBUTE

May 22, 2013

World War II vet recalls the days he took to the air as an eager teen

Contributed Issaquah resident Lou Ortiz served as an aviation radioman and gunner in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Contributed
Issaquah resident Lou Ortiz served as an aviation radioman and gunner in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

Before Issaquah resident Lou Ortiz boarded the USS Lexington and conducted missions all around the Pacific, the World War II veteran had to fight a different battle — one with his mother.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the eager 16-year-old was determined to enlist in the U.S. Navy, despite the fact that he was underage.

“I was so upset with it that I just kept saying to my mom, ‘Mom, I want to help. You’ve got to let me join,’” he said.

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Lest We Forget 2013

May 21, 2013

Open publication – Free publishingMore military

Lest We Forget – Thank You

May 15, 2013

Thanks so much for helping us honor our local veterans. We know they appreciate it!

Look for this year’s Lest We Forget Section in the May 21 issue of the Issaquah Press.

View past sections.




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