CKSD Transportation remembers those who served
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:08 AM
"The photos on the wall at the Central Kitsap School District Transportation Department administration building were in all shapes, sizes and conditions, including one from the early 1900s covered with clear plastic wrap to protect its time-yellowed image.The men and women were in combat dress, fatigues, dress blues or civilian clothes.But all had one thing in common - military service to their country, and their families' pride and gratitude.I've learned more about some of our people than I ever knew, said Pam Madden-Boyer, a driver trainer for the Central Kitsap School District's transportation department.It's just great ... I'm so impressed with what Debra (Russell) and Ruth (Moore) have done, said dispatcher Debby Fein-Mears. What a wonderful idea.Russell's wonderful idea was to bring in photos of family members, fathers, brothers, husbands and sons who had served in the armed forces, to honor them for Veterans Day. The idea caught on like wildfire.We have done it previously, but we never did anything for the vets who work here and retired, she said.They called it Transportation's Memorial, Non-War Specific Wall.Walter Breese Sr., the World War I doughboy in the faded photo protected by plastic wrap, is the father-in-law of transportation's Barbara Breese, Russell said. Information typed by transportation secretaries about Breese included:He was shot in both legs (and in) Germany lay in a water-filled shell hole for three days. During that time he shot (one enemy soldier, and) was gassed. He was one of the first Americans in Europe, and didn't come home until the war was over.His son, Walter Breese Jr. was among the Marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, Russell added.The photos on the board include some unique ones, such as that of Glenda Vio's grandmother, Andrea Marie Christensen, and father, Niels, as a boy in Denmark.They both worked with the underground, and neither knew about it at the time, Vio said. They didn't find out about each other's involvement until it came up in later years.My father had to flee for his life from the Germans, they knew his name and were after him, she added. Niels Christensen continued his fight against the German invaders of his homeland as a member of the British Army, Vio said.Kristi Liechte's contribution was a photocopy of a story in the Time/Life World War II series, Crossing the Rhine, with her father at the front of an assault boat. He was one of the sailors who paddled 500 soldiers of the U.S. 3rd Army across the Rhine at 10 p.m. to storm Oppenheim. The surprise was so successful, according to Time/Life's account, that the German soldiers volunteered to paddle themselves back to the west bank and surrender to the rest of the soldiers waiting to cross the river.Edgar Dishman, brother-in-law of bus driver Joan Lucke, was a sailor whose ship, the USS Oklahoma, sunk under him at Pearl Harbor. His account of that morning for a 50th anniversary magazine about the event accompanied his photo. He wrote about the Oklahoma rolling over as it sank, and hearing the USS Arizona blow up.There are two Purple Heart recipients in the display - transportation's Will Dahlke, who served in Vietnam, and Robert L. Owen, Russell's father, who served with the Marines in the Korean War.Bus driver Sue Lewis also is pictured on the board with her Army platoon. She served in the Army from 1972-75. Marlyn Holt's daughter, Deana (Holt) Harvey also served in the Air Force and is currently in the reserves.Sam Holcom's Navy photo is also on the wall. It looks just like him, said transportation's Jeannie Johnson. He's not admitting what year. We picked our own.The picture of a 4-or 5-year-old Ralph Haussman in a little German Navy suit was prophetic. Haussman nearly wound up on the other side of World War II when the orphanage he was in wanted to send him to his grandmother in Germany, said Russell.But that was in 1938-39 when Hitler was beginning to roll over Europe. Haussman was a ward of the state of New York, and the state said no, Haussman said.Instead, he joined the U.S. Navy and served from 1952-73 on the Early Warning Dew Line along the Atlantic coast.There were also a couple of photos of former students who rode the buses. It's nice to know they grow up and what happens to them, said Russell.The veteran from the most recent war was mechanic Bill Henry's brother, former Airman Dennis Henry.Henry's framed photo included colorful pamphlets in Arabic he helped drop over Baghdad, warning the Kurds the Iraqis were going to turn on them, Bill Henry said. When the Kurds retreated to the mountains, Airman Henry went with them as part of Operation Comfort, to provide food, medicine and tents for shelter, Bill Henry said.The display started slow, with just a handful of photos, said driver Teresa Tucker.By the time she returned from being off sick a couple days, they just poured in. People started to say, 'You know, we need to do this,' she said. Tucker brought in a photo of her grandfather from World War I, and one of her husband, Lloyd, who served in the Navy on an admiral's flagship during the Cuban missile crisis.Another yellowed photo off to the side of the board pictured a fresh-faced Ralph Smith, (U.S. Army, 1945-1947) his cap at a jaunty angle to match his smile.His daughter, Wendy Meyer expressed the sentiments of many:Growing up Veterans Day just meant a day off from school. Today I look at this day in a very different way. Thank you Dad for serving our country so that we can all enjoy the freedom we have come to love. Love, your daughter, Wendy. "