WRIT IN STONE: Plaque memorializes Goshen veterans

Published 8:08 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019

When the drape was removed from the Veterans’ Plaque at Goshen Town Hall Saturday morning, the names of 381 veterans from the Goshen area were publicly revealed. The Veterans Plaque will be displayed at Goshen Town Hall so that, “from this day forward,” their service will be known and honored.

The Veterans’ Plaque was the culmination of the efforts of a group of Goshen residents who are dedicated to making certain that Goshen High School graduates and attendees and area residents who served in the United States military from1937 until 1975 would always be remembered.  Those dates include World War II, Korea, the Cold War and Vietnam.

The Veterans’ Plaque was the third version of the efforts to recognize and remember those from the Goshen area who served during those times of war and rumors of war.

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Previously, two editions of the book titled “Goshen High School Military Service, 1935-1975” have been published. The book was compiled by Charles R. Horn, J. Watson Kyzar and Ramon Stroud.

Following the introduction of the veterans and the families of veterans, Stroud presented a resolution from the State of Alabama House of Representatives recognizing the veterans of Goshen and the surrounding area.

The resolution stated at least 43 students of GHS made the military their career. One obtained the rank of Major General and five achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  Three were awarded the Silver Star; 13 were awarded the Bronze Star; and three were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Thirteen made the ultimate sacrifice, nine in World War II, three during the Korean War and one in Vietnam. All who served were honorably discharged.

A composite photo the four remaining members of Goshen’s “Greatest Generation” was displayed. Hopes were that all could be attendance for the plaque dedication. However, Bill Folmar of Orlando, Florida died several weeks before. Elkin Carter of Georgetown, Georgia was unable to attend.

Bill Sanders of Goshen introduced WWII veterans Oris Sanders of Goshen and Homer LeSueur of Hiram, Georgia, members of America’s Greatest Generation, with a quote attributed to Winston Churchill, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

All veterans on this plaque were willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for their country, he said.

Oris Sanders and LeSueur had the honor of unveiling the plaque to appreciative applause.

Oris Sanders expressed appreciation that his service and that of the others will not be forgotten.

“My name’s up there?” he said as he searched for his name. “I see it, now. It’s there.”

For Bill Sanders, sharing that moment with his dad was very special.

“It means a lot to share this day with him, to share his honor with him,” Sanders said. “It’s special for those whose names are listed, for their families and for the Town of Goshen.”

Gene Nelson, U.S. Army (Retired) and retired GHS principal, was the featured speaker for the Veterans’ Plaque Dedication.

Nelson said there are many wartime heroes that he could have chosen as the subject for such a significant occasion. But, instead, he chose a soldier whose name would be familiar to very few.

Carter Harman was from Brooklyn, New York. He was born on Flag Day. He played the clarinet. In April 1942, he left the comfort of home and stepped forward and said to his country, “I’m here. Use me.”

Harman was trained as a helicopter pilot. He piloted the first mission by a U.S. military helicopter in a combat zone in 1944.

In Burma, the Japanese had shot down an aircraft that carried three wounded British soldiers. Harman was given the task of rescuing the soldiers in a chopper not so designed.

“Because of the size of his helicopter, it had to make repeated flights into the jungle that was thick with Japanese,” Nelson said. “Harman first carried two soldiers to safety. Then, he sat waiting two days before he could go back in the jungle to take the others to safety. He ran the rescue missions without the aid of weapons.”

For Harman’s bravery, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He came home to become a composer, writer and music industry executive and a member of America’s Greatest Generation.

“Carter Harman was willing to stand in the gap,” Nelson said.  His story is only one story.

Many stories of heroism often go untold. But each name on the Veteran’s Plaque is a story. Even if those stories are never told, there is satisfaction and fulfillment in that their names will not be forgotten, Nelson said.