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Albemarle Rotary Club, Stanly Community College salutes World War II veterans
The Stanly News & Press - 5/15/2018
By Shannon Beamon
James Mauney found himself at sea during World War II - carrying tires one way across the waves and coffins the other. It was a terrible exchange he never forgot.
L. C. Miller was up in the sky, jumping out of a perfectly good airplane more than 100 times. Paratrooping was new to everybody back then, but he got used to it after the first few jumps.
Joseph Ferebee was down on the ground, training more than 2,000 men to fight for their lives. After passing on everything he knew, he just hoped it was enough.
"These are our hometown heroes," Mabry Martin said at a luncheon in honor of Stanly County's World War II veterans this week.
The annual event - sponsored by the Albemarle Rotary Club and Stanly Community College - brought together a total of 21 such veterans.
Along with recognizing each of them, Martin - a former brigadier general whose father-n-law served during World War II - spoke to veterans and the 82nd Airborne Division's All American Chorus presented a performance.
"It's a good time," World War II veteran Miller said. "And good to see everyone."
But it's hard, too.
The number of World War II veterans across the county continues to dwindle each year. At least 23 WWII veterans died since May 2017. The luncheon had 12 less WWII veterans than last year, as well.
"It's hard seeing those numbers go down," Miller said. "Seeing people go."
That's all the more reason to bring them together, though, organizers said. To gather those glimpses into the past and cherish them.
"We owe them a debt of gratitude that cannot be fully repaid," Martin said.
And not just for the ways they served on the field.
After WWII, Mauney got his degree and took up a job at Pfeiffer where he oversaw a far better exchange than he saw on that ship.
Miller jumped right out of his airplanes and into family life. And with just as much courage as he did in the sky, his daughter said.
Ferebee ended up at Pfeiffer, too, training young people to take on life with just as much energy as the battlefield.
"They taught us to take personal responsibility for our lives, to be frugal, to be humble, to love loyally, work hard and embrace challenges," Martin said.
So while their numbers may be dwindling, perhaps that impact is only growing. Those moments on a ship or a plane or a battlefield echoing down through generations.
"May we never lose our profound respect and humility for that," Martin said.