They called him “the bullet proof kid.”
It was a handle the late Urban Fuerst of Delphos had hung on him when he was serving with the U.S. Army on the island of Luzon in the Philippines during World War II.
Fuerst’s platoon came under sniper fire by Japanese marksmen. He was among those who were shot, but miraculously, was not injured.
The bullet “lodged in my wallet,” Fuerst explained.
His story is one of the memorable ones that have been published in the annual Salute to Veterans section in The Lima News. The section has turned into a yearly history book about our area veterans. They’ve shared what it was like to leave the farmlands and small towns of Northwest Ohio and land in places like Omaha Beach, Saigon and the mountains of Afghanistan. They’ve taken us to the front lines of battles, have written about the loneliness of war, and have spoke with pride in serving their country.
The Lima News is in the process of putting together this year’s edition, which will be published on Sunday, Nov. 10. This Friday is the deadline for submitting stories and photographs, and we look forward the next few days of hearing from more veterans or their families. It’s through such stories that we can truly appreciate the Veterans Day holiday.
The stories in the past have been priceless.
In one edition Sgt. USMC Robert Slechter, of Lima, wrote about his first Christmas away from home when he was stationed in Panama. “Marines or not, we were all missing our families on this Christmas Eve. It was night, and we were struggling to find our way when we stumbled onto a wood shack. We forced the door and went inside. To our utter amazement, a telephone was inside and it worked! We all took turns calling home. As you can imagine, four young Marines being able to talk to their loved ones on this special night was to say the least a tear-jerking experience I will never forget.”
A story in another edition told about the family of Robert and Esther Marker of Lima, who had 15 children, nine boys and six girls. Robert was a World War I veteran and eight of his boys would serve their country from World War II to the Cold War. One of the sons, Hank, was killed in action during World War II. The ninth son, Thomas Marker, was born two months after Hank’s death. Thomas was attending Ohio State University when he received his draft notice for Vietnam. At that point, Robert Marker went to the draft board and told them about the pride and worries he experienced with his sons serving their country, but asked if eight from one family was enough. The draft board agreed and Tom’s induction was waived.
Teresa C. Bungard, of Cridersville, wrote us about her parents. “My father was a technical sergeant in the Air Force (a gunner) when he was sent to England during World War II. It was there that he met my beautiful young English mother. They met at a dance and it was love at first sight for both of them.”
Then there was Velma Kloeppel Murray. Anti-aircraft fire over Germany on Feb. 25, 1944, killed her only brother, a B-24 Liberator bomber pilot. Two months later her fiancé, a sergeant in the Army, was killed in a training accident. By year’s end she said she wiped away her remaining tears, quit her job at the Allen County Probate Court and joined the Navy. “Being one of five special yeomen to a busy admiral left little time for self-pity,” she said.
To be part of this year’s section, send us:
• Your name, including when and where you or your loved one served in the military
• Copies of any photos you would like to share
• Your current age
• Your address and phone number (not for publication)
• Your story. It can be as short as 100 words or 500 words or longer.
Stories can be emailed to Adrienne McGee Sterrett at firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to her at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807. The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25.
ROSES AND THORNS: A tribute to a young boy is recognized in the rose garden.
Rose: To the Lima Police Department and the Lima Noon Optimist Club. Their efforts resulted in the playground at Lima’s Safety City being renamed after Maleek L. Nelson. The 7-year-old boy dreamed of becoming a police officer before succumbing to congenital heart disease.
Rose: This year’s MakerFest was a record-setter with 1,500 students from 36 schools having the opportunity Friday to learn about the products made and the opportunities available from 100 local employers. Then on Saturday a job fair set a new attendance record with 766 people taking part, a 53-percent increase from a year ago.
Rose: To Former Allen County commissioner Alberta Lee and Mercy Health - St. Rita’s Medical Center. Each donated $50,000 toward the Rotary Community Stage & Park. The club has now raised about $800,000 of its $1.25 million fundraising goal.
Rose: To the Lima Central Catholic girls’ golf team, which has won back-to-back state titles.
Thorn: A state audit finds that Peg Elmquist, the former director of finance at the WORTH Center, misspent $5,200 on credit card purchases.
PARTING SHOT: War does not determine who is right – only who is left.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.