Local World War II veterans receive Congressional Gold Medal

November 2, 2011

NEW — 2:55 p.m. Nov. 2, 2011

Japanese-American World War II veterans from Issaquah and more then 30 others from Washington received the Congressional Gold Medal — highest civilian honor in the nation — at a U.S. Capitol ceremony Wednesday.

The ceremony at the Capitol honored Issaquah recipients Roy H. Inui and Frank T. Matsuda, plus 31 other veterans from the Evergreen State. The occasion brought together hundreds of Japanese-American, or Nisei, veterans from across the United States.

Congress bestows the Congressional Gold Medal for outstanding service to the nation. The ceremony at the Capitol honored members of the U.S. Army’s 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Services.

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Author recounts father’s World War II odyssey in book, ‘Two Gold Coins and a Prayer’

October 11, 2011

Meet local author, discuss book at Costco

Jim Keeffe (left) and his father, James Keeffe Jr., collaborated for the younger Keeffe’s book, ‘Two Gold Coins and a Prayer.’ Contributed

Lt. James Keeffe Jr., a United States Army Air Forces pilot, plummeted to earth as conflict tore Europe apart.

Nazis shot down Keeffe’s bomber March 8, 1944, months before D-Day and the start of a massive Allied assault to loosen occupied Europe from Hitler’s grasp.

More than six decades later, Jim Keeffe transformed the tale into “Two Gold Coins and a Prayer” — a book about his father’s experiences as a World War II bomber pilot and Nazi prisoner of war. The author is due to inscribe books and discuss the story Oct. 15 at Costco.

“There I was standing on the ground in enemy-occupied Holland,” the elder Keeffe recounts in the book. “I had just bailed out of my crippled heavy bomber and had no idea what had happened to my crew. I was hungry. I’d had only two hours of sleep in the past 36 hours. My face was smeared with mud and blood. And I was just four days away from my 21st birthday.”

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Issaquah couple celebrates a lifetime together

September 20, 2011

Marv and Lucille mark 68 years of marriage

Lucille and Marv Lemke keep the love bright for each other as they recall highlights of their 68-year marriage. By Greg Farrar

At a fateful wedding in Wisconsin during the early 1940s, Marv Lemke and his parents attended the reception to offer their congratulations to the groom.

Lucille Lueder and her family attended the event to do the same for the bride.

Little did they know that attending that wedding would soon lead to their own.

After decades of traveling across the United States and around the world, being active in the Lutheran church and starting a family, the Issaquah couple will celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary Sept. 22.

But the relationship almost never got off the ground.

After Marv introduced himself at the wedding in Wisconsin, where the Lemkes were raised, he asked if he could drive Lucille home.

She declined.

But as a driver for a Ford tractor distributor, Marv was resourceful and asked around to find out where Lucille lived.

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In Fabulous 5, six — yes, six — ladies form lasting friendships

September 13, 2011

Mary Ann Knowles, Colleen Buck, Jo Ann Gazdik and Marilyn Boone (from left), four of the six members of the Fabulous Five, meet for lunch and an afternoon of conversation. Contributed

In 1994, Marilyn Davis invited to her home four fellow Providence Marianwood nurses who, like herself, were approaching retirement. It was the first meeting of the Fabulous Five.

Since then, the group (now comprised of six women) have met regularly to laugh about old times and support each other as they confront the trials of growing older.

With only a couple days’ notice, four of the six met at Marilyn Boone’s house in Issaquah for an interview. The only two missing were Davis, who now lives in Australia, and Diana Millikan, who lives on Guemes Island.

To clarify, the Fabulous Five met in the apartment behind the 97-year-old house Boone bought in 1977. “The worst house in town” is what she called it. Boone became a self-taught carpenter and electrician. She fixed up her new home on her own — all the while raising three children and working as a nurse — until she met her husband.

“He was a retired engineer and he just loved the fact that I had two very old houses that needed redoing,” she said.

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Scout for life celebrates eight decades of mentoring youth

September 13, 2011

Bob Jones remembers his introduction to Scouting, 75 years ago. It began with a knock at the door of his home, when he was 11 years old.

Bob Jones has received numerous honors over the years, including a 75-year achievement award. By Sarah Gerdes

“My dad was making a big pot of coffee and three men from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were standing at the door,” he recounted.

His father wasn’t a member of the church, nor was he interested in Scouting.

“The bishop told him that God couldn’t smell the coffee, and neither could he, but the young men needed a Scout leader,” Jones said.

A week later, he had his first experience as a Boy Scout. Now 85, Jones has held every position in the Boy Scouts of America, achieving milestones accomplished by only a handful of men, including getting the Silver Beaver Award and the William Spurgeon Exploring Award. His dark-green uniform is adorned with patches, ribbons, recognitions and pins, and the ribbons around his neck attest to his decades of devotion to an institution that has influenced thousands of young men.

“He has easily touched more than 30,000 young men,” said Ken Kenyon, of Issaquah, a business owner and local Scouting leader.

Kenyon had sons that were mentored to the rank of Eagle Scout by Jones, and many of Kenyon’s 19 grandchildren were influenced by Jones.

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Marv and Lucille Lemke celebrate anniversary

September 13, 2011

Marv and Lucille Lemke celebrate 68th anniversary

Lucille and Marv Lemke in 1943

Marv and Lucille Lemke, of Issaquah, celebrated their 68th anniversary Sept. 2.

Marv and Lucille both grew up on dairy farms near Milwaukee, Wis., and met at a friend’s wedding reception dance. Marv, smitten by Lucille Lueder, asked if he could drive her home, but she refused. Through a friend, Marv found out where Lucille lived and drove by her family farm the next day, finding her standing at the well pump. He asked her for a Saturday night date, she accepted and they continued seeing each other every Saturday night for the next year.

They married in Thiensville, Wis., on Sept 2,1943.

Marv served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and set foot in Japan on Sept. 2,1945, right after the USS Missouri battleship was in Tokyo Bay for Japan’s signing of the official instrument of surrender.

After his discharge from the Navy in 1945, Marv worked at the Washington State Employment Office, in Seattle, and helped reactivate the Washington National Guard, which was demobilized at the end of the war. He rejoined the Navy in 1948 and worked at Sand Point Naval Air Station until he was transferred in 1966 to the U.S. Navy Reserve Fleet in

Marv and Lucille Lemke in 2011

Bremerton, where he worked for 10 years.

Marv then worked at the Safeway Beverage Plant, in Bellevue, until his retirement 14 years later.

Marv and Lucille have always been very active in the Lutheran church, both serving in many leadership roles. Over the years, they, along with their son Paul, traveled to every state, camping in all of them with the exception of Alaska and Hawaii. They have lived at Providence Point for 26 years.

Commemorate end of World War II on Spirit of ’45 Day

August 9, 2011

The guns fell silent and World War II ended as Japan surrendered Aug. 15, 1945 — Aug. 14 in the United States due to the time difference across the Pacific Ocean.

In the 66 years since the conflict came to a close, the accomplishments of the greatest generation — the nickname comes from a 1998 Tom Brokaw account — turned into near-legends. In order to commemorate the feats and the way ordinary citizens pulled together for the war effort, the Issaquah History Museums plan to celebrate Spirit of ’45 Day on Aug. 14 to mark the end to the long conflict.

“People made some amazing sacrifices and contributions,” museums Executive Director Erica Maniez said. “I think that really contributed to a lot of feelings of unity, not just on a local level, but on a national level.”

Overall, more than 16 million people served in the armed forces during World War II. The National World War II Museum estimates about 1,000 veterans of the conflict die each day.

“It’s amazing to me to get the individual stories about what all the national themes really meant on a day-to-day basis,” Maniez said. “What was it really like to be in the Pacific worrying about a Japanese kamikaze pilot flying into your ship?”

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Off the Press

July 26, 2011

Remember veterans of Korea, a forgotten war

A friend of the family once told a story about his Korean War days. It seems that he and his U.S. Army infantry platoon were ordered to liberate a sake brewery.

Bob Taylor Press sports editor

They took the brewery without firing a shot because the building was vacant. Inside the brewery were numerous barrels of sake. Since the orders were to liberate the brewery, well, our friend and his platoon followed orders. After all, a soldier’s duty is to follow orders.

For the next week or so, the platoon went on a big bender until the sake was totally liberated. I have a hunch these fellows probably had one massive hangover because undiluted sake is 18 to 20 percent alcohol.

His commanding officer was not pleased, and our friend, who was a sergeant at the time, received a demotion in rank. However, our friend believed by spending time in the sake brewery he kept some young men out of harm’s way for a few precious days.

Other than this one experience, our friend does not talk that much about his Korean War days.

Overall, I do not think he found it as amusing as some of the episodes of the long-running TV series “M*A*S*H.” Much like my friends who served in Vietnam and local vets I have met from World War II, war is still a painful memory.

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Still living the adventure after 70 years

July 5, 2011

Issaquah couple celebrates anniversary milestone

At age 94, Ralph Upton has moved 29 times and has been married to his wife for 70 years.

Mary Upton (left) and her husband Ralph share the story of the early decades of their 70 years together. By Greg Farrar

“I think that my dad is unbelievable, an eternal optimist,” his daughter, Beth Upton said. “He has grit.”

Her mother balances the equation.

“Dad was the extrovert and adventurer, but Mom kept the home fires burning,” Beth said. “She kept things calm and paid attention to the details to make things work.”

Both were born before World War I ended, and their faith and adaptability have propelled them through the years.

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Off the Press

May 31, 2011

Veterans have earned their place of honor

I had tears in my eyes Memorial Day as about 200 people gathered at Hillside Cemetery to honor and remember veterans.

Kathleen R. Merrill Press editor

I’ve always thought that veterans got short shrift in some respects. But on this day, those who are living, those who have passed away and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice were the focus of young and old. Thank you to everyone who turned out.

I loved seeing the people, again young and old, who have served or are serving their country, lined up in front of the crowd. It always touches my heart especially to see the men and women who served in Vietnam and World War II standing up there, saluting the flag or standing at attention.

I hope you saw our second annual section — Lest We Forget — in last week’s paper. We are continuing to collect photos of and information about people from our community who have served in all branches of the armed forces.

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