Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Memorial Day 2013 - A Tribute to Dad and his First Division Marine Corps Buddies

Below is the transcript from my speech about Dad, Randy Rabenold, delivered at the Lehighton Area Middle School Memorial Day Program, Wednesday, May 22, 2013.  A presentation of 37 slides accompanied the original speech, key photos are reproduced here.
Other Posts:
Part 1 Of Randy Rabenold's Korea Story
 Part 2 Of Randy Rabenold's Korea Story
Part 3 of Randy Rabenold's Korea Story
The Trench Art of Randy Rabenold from the Korean War
UVO Members Glenn "Smokey" Trotman, Randy Rabenold, Henry Long, Captain Semanoff, and his dad Gene Semanoff
Vietnam-era veteran.

Ron and Randy Rabenold, Captain Pete Semanoff, main speaker with Nate and Jon Rabenold at the Lehighton Area
Middle School following the 2013 Memorial Day Program.

I have a lesson for you today.

I’d like to share with you some research and interviews I have done on my Dad, Randy Rabenold and his friends when they served in the Marine Corps. 

In it, I hope you will hear what service to one’s country means.

My Dad and his 5 neighborhood friends were known as “the Bulldogs.”  They were the best of friends.  They did everything together.  They played football, basketball and track.  They even joined the Marines together.

 On the day after graduation from High School, while their other classmates had a picnic, their class outing,  the 6 Bulldog friends were on a train to Boot Camp at Paris Island.

They were: Bill Kuhla, Bobby Kipp, Dad’s cousin Ray, Dick Carrigan, and Duke Blauch.
Dad was assigned to the First Division where he met more friends from all over the country.  
One friend, Tadashi Yamaguchi was known as “Jack” to his friends.  He and his family were Japanese Americans. 

Because of the sneak attack by Japan on Pearl Harbor, our government thought it best to place Americans of Japanese Heritage into Internment Camps during World War II. 
Jack Yamaguchi was a prisoner in his own country during Word War II, but chose to serve by joining the Marines
in 1948 at the same time my Dad did.  This slide shows my Dad at play at about the same time Jack and his family
had their freedoms taken away.

So while my Dad and his other friends were free to go play, Jack Yamaguchi, at the age of 12, was a prisoner of war in his own country

But Jack was willing to forgive his country.  He said, “I knew in my heart I was an American, and nothing or nobody could change that.”  “I always say in the long run, everything worked out for me…

I was never angry about what happened to me…I always say, when you’re angry, you are your worst enemy.”

And so, 4 years after his release, he too joined the United States Marine Corps.
One of my favorites of Dad's friends.  Jack Yamaguchi died last spring.  One of those lives that touches other lives without that person really ever knowing.  Rest in Peace Jack: You unknowingly inspired the tone and subtext of my message I gave at Ss Peter and Paul Cemetery On Memorial Day 2013.

Few people join the military because they love war.  They do not hope to die for their country, but they join realizing that dying is a distinct possibility.

When the Korean War broke out, Dad and his friends were in the thick of the fighting.

At first, it was going badly for us.  We were barely holding on to an area known as the Pusan Perimeter. 
Then Dad and all his friends made it safely through the Inchon Invasion.  Suddenly, the war was going in our favor.  Surely everyone would be home safely by Christmas.

But one night, there was a mortar attack.  There was fear and confusion, bombs seemed to be coming from everywhere.  The men, deep in their two-man foxholes said prayers, not just for themselves, but for their buddies, and their families back home.

Bobby Kipp and his foxhole buddy were dug in. But it wasn’t enough.  In the morning, they pulled his foxhole partner out, unconscious, but alive.  But Dad’s friend Bobby was dead.  Bobby was buried back home here in Lehighton, 9 months later.

At about this same time, my grandfather, my Dad’s dad, died back home here in Lehighton. 

The war was going well enough now for the Marines to allow my Dad a 30-day leave to be with his Mother.
While he was gone, the rest of his buddies did as Marines do, they pushed forward to a place called the Chosin Reservoir. 

But there was a huge problem.  The Chinese were there and they were waiting for us. 

When our 8,000 Marines got near the Chosin, 300,000 Chinese Communist soldiers entered the war.  At this point the men had been fighting for two months straight without even enough time to change their clothes.  The Chinese attacked us at night, for 12 days straight.  Our men barely had any time to sleep.  It was extremely cold, 20 degrees below zero. 

The Chinese had us surrounded and completely outnumbered.

Our Marines, my Dad’s friends, were trapped.  There was little hope they could get out alive.

Just then, Dad was returning back to Korea from his 30-day leave.  He and a small band of men were told they had to fight their way in, to get our trapped men out.  Dad said a little prayer for his buddies who were in trouble.

Luckily, by the time they got there, most of the Marines had fought their way out.
They made it through, but at a heavy cost.  Many of our Marines were killed, many were badly wounded.  Almost all of them had severe frostbite. 

Among the dead was another of Dad’s friends, Gene Holland. 

Dad often said, how being sent home because of his dad’s death, may have saved his life in Korea.

I thank God my Dad came home safely.  I also am thankful he and so many men and women dedicate themselves to serving our country.

And that is precisely what we must remember about Memorial Day. 

Look around you.  You are surrounded by Veterans who served and sacrificed.
Before I go, I want to leave you with the lesson of Dad’s story.

No matter what you do in your future, I want you to consider putting these 3 words into your life:



Soldiers are a rare contradiction: They love America so much but they are willing to spend long years in foreign countries.  They love freedom so much, but they give up their own free time to serve.  They value life, and yet they stand ready to die for us and our future.

When Dad and his friends came home from war, they didn’t stop serving.  They got married, raised their families, and helped serve and build their communities in many ways. 



The legendary Navy Seal motto is: “The only easy day was yesterday.” 
Think about that.  That means each of us, every day, has hard work to do for our country.
The soldiers we remember on Memorial Day put in many hard days for us. 
They paid it forward to us.  If we are unwilling to carry it forward, we are wasting the gift of their sacrifice to us.
So, on Memorial Day, we owe it to them to remember their sacrifice. 



One of Jack Yamaguchi’s favorite expressions, one he always ended his phone calls with was: “Keep the Faith.”

My Dad and his friends had Faith in each other.

And that too is what Memorial Day is all about: keeping the faith, for all those who served, who fought, and who died, for us, and our country.

War is never good, but unfortunately, it becomes necessary.

The danger we face is when freedom becomes an expectation and when people feel entitled to it without being willing to work for it.

Dad: We are all proud of you and thankful for your service, sacrifice, and faith.
Semper Fi Dad – You were always faithful.

Memorial Day is a day to remember their service to us.  We too must sacrifice ourselves for our country.  The easiest day was yesterday.  It is up to us to remember and work hard for them as they did for us.  They are counting on us.  They have faith in us.

Thank you.
As you leave here today, say thank you to all the veterans you see:
The men here in uniform, and the ones not in uniform:
  •          My Dad
  •      Captain Pete Semanoff, Bronze Star Receipient and his dad Geno Semanoff
  •       Members of the UVO in Attendance: Jim Zanders, Frank Bokan, Dave Bryfogle, Oscar Lesley, Carl Haydt, Hans Keller, Billy Fisher, Smokey Trotman, Henry Long, Eileen Morgan, and Roger Diehl.
  •       Members of the Lehighton Area Middle School Staff: Mr. Dennis Semmel, Mr. Steve Ebbert,  Mr. Kevin Long, Mr. Eric Schlect, Mr. Keith Paterson, Mr. Charles Bachert, Mrs Heather Solt, and Mr John Stemler. 
The Lehighton Area Middle School 7th and 8th Grade Chorus sang "Of Thee I Sing, America" under direction from
Mrs. Laura Welkey during the Memorial Day Program held Wednesday, May 22, 2013.

Captain Peter Semanoff was the keynote speaker.  A decorated, Bronze
Star recipient of both the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.
 My Dad, Randy Rabenold with UVO Bugler Henry Long.

The UVO Color Guard take their ease in the first row during the program.

"Hand, Salute..."

"...Ready, Two."
While Henry Long plays "Taps.

1 comment:

  1. Great presentation Ron. I googled memorial day services and found this by accident. Beautiful tribute. Kathy Goldberg