Parks waive fees for all on Veterans Day weekend

November 6, 2012

Residents can explore the outdoors for free as state and national parks waive entrance fees for Veterans Day weekend, Nov. 10-12.

Lake Sammamish, Squak Mountain and other state parks do not require a Discover Pass during the holiday weekend. The waiver also applies to lands run by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and the state Department of Natural Resources, including Tiger Mountain State Forest.

The fee waiver encompasses all 398 national parks — including Washington’s Mount Rainier, North Cascades and Olympic national parks.

Off the Press

May 22, 2012

Veterans deserve our thanks, for everything

Kathleen R. Merrill Press managing editor

Memorial Day. What does it mean to you?

It’s usually a fun day for me, but it’s also bittersweet, and there is always a solemn time of remembrance.

See, I’ve always had a heart for the men and women who have served our country. Maybe that comes from my father, who served in Vietnam in the United States Navy. (He’s an awesome man and my personal hero.) Maybe it comes from my own U.S. Army service and the pride that was instilled in me.

I can’t help but get teary when I hear the national anthem, no matter the location or occasion. I love our flag and all it stands for, and I love the men and women who have signed up and gone on duty for this country, to keep all of our various freedoms that make ours a country like no other.

My heart aches for the men and women of all ages who have gone off to war, and not returned home. And for the ones who have come back, but no longer alive, who have given the ultimate sacrifice for all of the blessings we have in our everyday lives.

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U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert honors Issaquah veterans

November 15, 2011

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (left) greets World War II veteran and University House Issaquah resident Eugene Klineburger on Nov. 10. By Greg Farrar

The day before the United States paused to honor veterans, attention focused on the greatest generation and the sacrifices members made to fight and win World War II.

The early Veterans Day observance in Issaquah included a visit from a congressman and a chance to share stories about the long-ago conflict.

Jack Yusen served aboard the USS Samuel B. Roberts amid World War II, until Japanese forces sunk the destroyer escort in the Battle of Leyte Gulf — the largest naval battle during World War II. Some sailors survived the attack only to bob in the shark-infested Philippine Sea until rescuers arrived days later.

“We had no water, no medicines, no food,” Yusen said Nov. 10. “If one of the guys got bit by a shark, we’d push him away, because the blood made other sharks come. It was horrible. I was 18 years old, but we survived.”

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert met Yusen and about 15 other veterans at University House Issaquah, a retirement facility, to pay tribute to veterans from World War II and other conflicts. In a brief speech, the congressman called on others to acknowledge veterans’ sacrifices and service. (The National World War II Museum estimates about 1,000 veterans of the conflict die each day.)

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Veterans receive salute at Issaquah ceremony

November 15, 2011

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

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 Nov. 11. See a slideshow of photos at www.issaquahpress.com. By Tom Corrigan

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 the 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 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.

Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 3436, led by David Waggoner, 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.

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Veterans Day observance In Issaquah / Nov. 11, 2011

November 14, 2011

Issaquah Veterans of Foreign Wars leads annual Veterans Day celebration

November 11, 2011

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.

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King County Council extends benefits, income for active-duty employees

November 11, 2011

NEW — 12:15 p.m. Nov. 11, 2011

Just before Veterans Day, King County Council members extended salary and benefits for county employees serving as National Guard and reserve service members.

The council approved legislation to cover all county employees called to active duty. For some county employees, being called to active duty means taking a pay cut, because their military salary is less than their county compensation — a particular challenge if the service member is the only wage earner in his or her household.

Under the legislation, county employees called to active duty become eligible for military leave differential pay if their military pay is less than their county income. The employees can continue to receive full health and other benefits through the county as well.

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U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert honors Issaquah veterans

November 10, 2011

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (left) thanks University House Issaquah resident Harry Tanaka for his service in the Army 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II in Italy and France. By Greg Farrar

NEW — 3:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 2011

The day before the United States pauses to honor veterans, attention focused on the greatest generation and the sacrifices members made to fight and win World War II.

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Veteran Roy Inui receives Congressional Gold Medal, highest civilian honor in nation

November 8, 2011

Roy Inui (left) and his wife of 63 years, Bette, hold his Congressional Gold Medal in their Timber Ridge at Talus home. By Greg Farrar

Decades after the government sent Japanese-American citizens to internment camps, Japanese-American World War II veterans received the Congressional Gold Medal — the highest civilian honor in the United States.

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Battles continue for Iraq war veteran Rory Dunn, mother Cynthia Lefever

November 8, 2011

The challenges resonate almost a decade after crude bombs detonated along a roadside in Iraq.

Cynthia Lefever (left) and her son, Purple Heart recipient Rory Dunn, take Gunner, Duke and Mister on their daily dog walk in 2008 at Ron Regis Park in Renton. File

The struggle for survival started in the frantic moments after a bomb explosion near Fallujah left Army Spc. Rory Dunn, a Liberty High School graduate, sightless and near death. Then came a much longer campaign to navigate a medical system unequipped to handle veterans from the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The day Dunn turned 22 in March 2004, roadside bombs tore through a Humvee. Shrapnel pierced the unarmored vehicle and left Dunn’s best friend and another soldier dead. The explosion shattered Dunn’s forehead and left the 6-foot, 3-inch former basketball player blind and deaf for a time.

The “battle after the battle” — as Dunn’s mother, Cynthia Lefever, came to call the long healing process — opened days after the explosion at a military medical center in Landstuhl, Germany.

Lefever, leaned close to the bed and shouted, “Rory Dunn, this is your mother! You will not die! Don’t you dare die!”

Dunn did not die. Instead, after surgeries and rehabilitation, the soldier beat the “imminent death” predictions from doctors.

“I’ve never had anything in my life that if I wanted to achieve it — if it was realistic — that I haven’t been able to make happen,” he said. “I’m not worried.”

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