Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Operation Never Forget" Successfully Launched

Recently a new club was formed at the Lehighton Area Middle School known as “Operation Never Forget.”

A group of students began exploring the lives of some area men who served in World War II.  

Their research led them to two men: Ezra Kreiss and Walter Haydt.   (Click their names for their complete stories.)

The lives of these two men were highlighted in the LAMS Memorial Day Program on May 22, 2015.

The entire student body was present for the program as well as surviving members of the Kreiss and Haydt families.

Students launched a unique fund drive.  Unlike other drives that are competitively motivated, this one was different.  

Each homeroom of students was asked to make a personal commitment for a greater good, to give a small personal sacrifice for an unseen, unknown higher purpose. 

The results were fairly remarkable.   

Each student was asked to give fifty cents.  The Operation Never Forget Club hoped to raise $200 to $300.  Through their efforts, over $500 was raised.

Results were revealed at the LAMS Annual Memorial Day Program.  Flowers were placed on EzraKreiss’s grave in Cambridge England as well as on the grave of Walter Haydt’s grave at Fort McPherson, Nebraska.

Then at the main community Memorial Day services at Lehighton Cemetery on Monday May 25, members of the club were on hand to distribute over 200 fresh cut flowers to the public so that they could be strewn onto the graves of the community’s fallen veterans.

The gesture made an impact.

Members of the town were touched.  Some were grateful, teary-eyed, and moved.  One older man saying he hadn’t seen this type of gesture since he was a very young boy.

Grown sons and daughters placed the donated flowers on the graves of their fathers, their former school teachers and other servicemen they remembered hearing about as young children.

The Shoemaker-Haydt American Legion Post #314 Commander Kevin “Spike” Long commented, “I’ve attended many Memorial Day Services over the years and many of my fellow veterans had been saddened by the lack of flowers brought by the public for the segment of our program for ‘children will strew flowers onto the graves.’    It is the least we can do for those who secured the blessings for us all.”

The impetus and momentum of “Operation Never Forget” looks to carry enough charge to become a new Lehighton Area tradition.  Plans are already moving forward to improve and expand the program for next year.

More on Ezra Kreiss on this blog, followthis link.

Flowers were purchased for both Ezra Kreiss's grave in Cambridge England
as well as Walter Haydt's grave in Nebraska.  More information is available
in separate posts on this blog.  Kreiss's grave was visited by his niece just
seven days after they were placed there on the anniversary of his death.
Of the 4,000 American graves there, his was the only one decorated.

Ezra Kreiss with his Lehighton bride, the former Madeline
Haas.  They were married on January 1, 1943.  More of his
story can be found be clicking here.

Walter Haydt's family lived on Union Hill.  He was
known as the first area WWII death and so the Shoemaker-
Haydt Legion Post was partly named in his honor.
More of his story can be found by clicking here.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Ron. Like some mentioned in your story, I got choked up too just reading this.

    1. That means a lot Amber...thanks for the kind words...