Sunday, May 29, 2011

Their Hearts Can Sense Our Presence: Memorial Day at Dinkey Memorial Church Cemetery

The 37 White Crosses help us to remember them, those who were lost in World War II (Dinkey Memorial Cemetery, East Penn Township, Pennsylvania.)
The following is the speech given today at the Memorial Day Ceremony at Dinkey Memorial Church.  Following the text of this speech, you will find a few additional stories.  Be sure to check back to this post from time to time as more Ashfield stories will be added or linked to this post...Thank you!

"We pause here together today to remember those who gave of themselves for our country. They were immigrants and farmers, they were our ancestors, they were citizen soldiers, they did what they did for us. At our feet, in this soil, lie the men and women who answered a call to serve. We stand here today, enjoying the benefits of what they did, what they gave through their toil, pain, and sacrifice. They didn’t do it for themselves, they did it for us.

These local boys were part of something bigger. Every one of them was local somewhere. There are veterans buried all around us. Many right here in this graveyard. Some died in service, some lived lives long after. They all have a story.

So let’s for a moment try to understand these Americans and how they helped bring us to where we stand now. Let’s hear their stories, for in doing so we learn about ourselves and the threads they have woven into this rich American fabric.

Out in a lonely grave in Normal Square, lies the body of my Great Grandfather’s Great Grandfather: Colonel Peter Nothstein. After the Revolutionary War he settled here to farm in the Mahoning Valley. Many of his descendents walk among us today.

From the War of 1812, Private Michael Sloyer lies over there…

He served under Captain George Hess of “Humprey’s Riflemen.” I’m certain that he hunted the woods around his Lizard Creek Valley farm.  I'm sure he was a good shot. He is buried here. (Born September 29th, 1785; Died July 18, 1858. He served in the First Rifle Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers; Capt George Hess Jr’s Humprey’s Riflemen.)

The War Between the States: There are many Civil War veterans from our area, many buried here. Among those at Dinkey are Nathan Kulp and John Brindle.

Nathan Kulp was wounded in the hand and discharged after two years service and returned here to live a long life. (Born May 2, 1841; Died Jaunary 2, 1913. Served in the 51st Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, Company F; Mustered In 10/16/1861; Transferred to Reserve Corps 11/6/1863 with hand wound; another source says it was in 1861; taken from "Bolton's Journal.")



John Brindle was a recent immigrant who lived here both before and after the Civil War. He enlisted, fought for two years including the bloody battle for the Wheatfield at Gettysburg, before being discharged due to injuries. He was a bachelor laborer until the day he died. (He lived here in East Penn both before and after the war; Company K, 81st Pennsylvania Infantry- Mustered in 10/27/61; discharged on a surgeon’s certificate in 1863; born 1821.)

The First Great War:

There are men like Private John L. Craig. Private Craig was just 20 when we joined WWI. He lived a long life after the war. He married Mamie and had two daughters, Elane and Lucella. He worked as a telegraph operator for the Central Jersey RR and later as a laborer at the NJ Zinc. He lived to be 95 and is buried here. (U.S. Army; Born January 14, 1897; Died September 2, 1992; Telegraph Operator for the Central New Jersey RailRoad in 1930; Mamie was the daughter of Augustus Rehrig, who was a carpenter in West Bowmans. John was laborer at the New Jersey Zinc and living with his father-in-law in 1920.)

We are fortunate that the VFW thought to have those 37 white crosses in the rear of this cemetery to remember those who were lost in the Second World War:

For their loved ones never saw them again. Out there, those 37 names represent 37 stories, 37 families who suffered terrible heartache, for their remains were never found.

One of those white crosses out there is for Stanley W. Hoffman who lived here in East Penn was missing in action during WWII. They named the bypass in Lehighton in his honor.  (Born in 1919; enlist March 3, 1942; first served at Fort Meade Maryland; he had two years of High School and wasn’t married at the time. He lived with William J. & Dorothy Hoffman of West Bowmans in 1920 and by 1930, he was living with his grandmother Ada Hoffman, 63.)

Staff Sergeant Walter E. Haydt’s plane was last known to be over Hinshinbrook Island near Ingham Australia in December 18th of 1942. His parents waited until February 18th, 1943 before they heard anything. If you talk to Walter’s brother Ray Haydt of Union Hill, he’ll tell you, the anguish of not knowing wore his parents down. The end of the war, to his family was bittersweet. Our Shoemaker-Haydt American Legion Post #314 carries his name in remembrance of him.

One family, from Bark River Michigan came here to Carbon County to pay their final respects to their son, 22-year old army pilot, Lt. Fred J. Knauf, was flying his Curtiss P-36 back to West Point. His plane violently crashed atop the Broad Mountain near the fire towerr on March 28, 1942. The newspaper said “his body was blown to bits.” A young girl from New Columbus found his ID bracelet. On July 21 of 1942, his parents and young sister drove here from Bark River, Michigan to listen to the 21 gun salute and to hear taps at the 6 PM service. A 4-foot stone was dedicated that night. The young girl presented the bracelet she found to Lt Knauf's family. Before leaving, Lt Knauf’s parents tenderly scavenged the area then started on the long drive back to Bark Falls, with a box of metal from their son’s wreckage.


Ezra Kreiss Junior at his grandfather's house.  Ezra Sr was killed
in the weeks before D-Day, his LST training mission ended his life.
Ezra Kreiss of Slatington married my Aunt Madeline Haas. She was expecting when he shipped out. His LST was sunk by a German sub in the English Channel in the days leading up to D-Day. His body was never recovered and lies at rest at the bottom of the Channel. What broke my aunt’s heart the most was knowing her dear husband couldn’t swim. She raised her son, Ezra Junior, without him ever seeing his father.

The paper incorrectly identified
Ezra and Madeline's son.  Their
only son was Ezra Kreiss, Junior.
Dad carries his "machine gun" crew picture everywhere he goes in his wallet.
My own father, Randy Rabenold fought with the First Provisional Marine Brigade in Korea. But soon into the fight, his own father died back here in the states. While home for his bereavement, my Dad’s unit was annihilated by the Chinese at the Chosin Reservoir. When he returned to what was left of his unit, his comrades had been transformed, shells of men with thousand yard stares. My dad often has said, that his father’s death, probably saved his life.  He will be honored later today by the Carbon County Sports Hall of Fame for his 37 years of coaching at Jim Thorpe,

Above: Randy Rabenold at Fort Pendleton, CA.  Below:
Graduating platoon from Paris Island, August of 1948.
Dad is 6th from the right, second row.

Some say Zach's death saved
his son.
Randy as a Marine in Korea.

Just last week, we buried a WWII veteran who was a friend of mine, Ira F. Smith. He was born and raised on his family farm in Kistler’s Valley. He was the youngest of 9, and by the time he was 17, both his parents had passed away and his family farm was sold. So in peacetime, he decided to enlist. When war broke out he went off to war without parents, with a home or hearth to fight for, he didn’t even have a sweetheart yet. He was wounded by an American .30 caliber bullet in the battle of the Bulge, taken prisoner, and held in a warehouse that was bombed by American planes. He fell 2 stories through the rubble and broke his back. After his liberation, he spent a full year at Valley Forge rehabilitation center. He returned to the Lehigh Valley to raise 2 children. For years he never talked about his service, not because it was too painful to recollect, but because he was too humble. He certainly never complained and never bragged. He absolutely would never say that his country owed him. He worked for over thirty years in a dynamite factory, with his fused left wrist and his crooked back.  He did it because that was how his parents raised him. Because it was the right thing to do.
Ira F. Smith of New Tripoli gestures to General Leonard
after his liberation from Stalag 12A. 
CLICK HERE FOR
Ira's War Story, Part I
Ira's War Story, Part II.

65 years later, Ira gestures as he retells his story. 
CLICK here for
 Ira's "Going Home after 72 Years" story.

So look around you. Their stories are everywhere.  They once stood here among us.  We are the products of them. We stand on their shoulders. We breathe today, the free air they fought for us to have.

Their stories are our stories. Each one joins a chorus of stories that stretch all across this land. It is who we are.

They left the comfort of their homes, the embrace of their sweethearts, the home cooked meals of their mothers, and willfully went off into the unknown, into a world of war.

Your presence here today says you appreciate them. You have come here today to remember them.
Ira F. Smith's internment.  (Photos by Ed Kline)

Veteran's remembering veterans.  (Photo by Ed Kline)

And though their voices are now silent, and their ears no longer hear, their hearts sense your presence, and it honors their love and their toil that is buried here beneath our feet.
Saluting the dead.  (Photo by Ed Kline)

Taps at the edge of the Kistler Valley, near Ira's original family
farm.  (Photo by Ed Kline)

Thank you for listening to their stories. Thank you for helping to honor them today."



Echoing taps all down the valley.  (Photo by Ed Kline)
It was so nice to see many acquaintances at the Dinkey services today.  Former U.S. Government teacher and Korean war veteran Ray Koons has so many stories of his own.  He had to drop out of school when his father passed away to work to help his mother.  Then he joined the Marines.  When he returned, he got his GED and became one of those teachers that everyone notes as having had a big impact on their lives.  He is and always will be a hero of mine.

It was also nice to see Ira Smith's daughter at Dinkey today.  Linda and Ed Kline introduced me Ron Smith.  His father was one of 10 brothers, all but one served in World War II.  When the last brother was drafted, the President intervened and kept him at home.  Ron's father Earl G. Smith, born February 17, 1919 served under Patton's 4th Armored Division.  He too was twice wounded and campaigned in the Battle of the Bulge, the Ardene's, and Patton's "100 Mile March."  At one point in the war, a general needed a cake baked and asked Earl to do it.  While he was back, his unit suffered heavy casualties.  Ron said, "Just like your dad, neither one of us would be here if it wasn't for some odd twist of fate."

His father too, was too humbled to accept the accolades and medals he deserved, and at the age of 70, when the army tried to present them to him he refused them.  He wouldn't let them in the house.

Much of Earl's information and service records he kept privately in his wallet, until one day, when plowing his fields in East Penn, just over the hill from where he is buried, he lost it.  But Ron remembers his father telling the story of how he ran into a man from his brother Louie Smith's unit and asked him if he knew him.  To his surprise, it was indeed his brother Louie he was talking to.  Both men had changed so much that neither at first recognized the other.

After returning home and as he aged, Earl G. Smith increasingly said how afraid he was to die.  He said that he felt there was no way, God would forgive him for what he had to do in war.

A few weeks before his death in May of 1995, Earl had a dream that God did indeed forgive him.
He died peacefully in his sleep.

(I will try to get a picture of Earl's grave on this post soon.)

Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories with me.

Here are SOME of the OTHER DINKEY VETERANS: (More to be added later...)
• William Bennett was married to Rebecca Beltz of Parryville. He was a blacksmith. They had one child, Alfred. His family never saw him again. Most likely buried in an unknown grave in Fredericksburg, Virginia.; (KIA 12/13/1862; Born in NJ in 1816; Married Rebecca May 25, 1844 in Parryville; (b. 1820 or 1822; d. 1/9/79); child Alfred; 1860 census Blacksmith;) (Served with John Brindle who is buried at Dinkey;)


• S Sgt Don Frehulfer; Born in Lehighton, his father was a Blacksmith on the LVRR; He enlisted ___, went missing 5/22/1944, US Air Force; another record says Staff Sgt US Army Air Force; non-recoverable; MIA or buried at Sea; Florence Italy; 765th Bomber Squadron, 461st Bomber Group, Heavy; awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster; Purple Heart; April, 1944, this group bombed Italy France Germ Czech, Hung, Aust Roman, Yugos, Greece; aircraft compnant plant in Budapest; (on the white crosses at Dinkey)

Civil War:
Lewis H Rehrig; 7/19/1839-3/11/1906; Capt Co D 10th NJ Reg GAR

Nathan Eck; 8/18/1831-5/20/1916

Herman Peters; 1840-1898; Co M.D. 176 Reg

William Rehrig; 6/8/1806-9/1/ 1875

George Rehrig 12/26/1826-4/22/1901; Pvt Co K 54 Regt PA Inf

WWI:
Wm Fenstermaker 1894-1967; pvt co M 109th Inf; USA; WWI

Albert Ginder 1894-1964; Pvt btry B; 33rd F.A. WWI

Granville Fritzinger 1890-1966;

PFC Royal J Schoch; 1892-1957; Co K 112th Inf 28th Div;

WWII -
T5 Stanley A Tartar; Co C 5th Engr Bn; 1919-1947; WWII

George I McFarland 1897-1960, Pvt 334th O.M. Depot Co.; WWII

Edgar T Zubar, Cpl US Army; WWII; 2/8/1908-4/14/1982

Harold Leiby Pvt US Army WWII 8/4/28-2/16/02

Robert M Kleintop 6/20/1923-1/2/2003

1 comment: