With Veterans Day this weekend, the Abington Suburban visited with area veterans and asked about their time in the service.
Some of them were young and drafted into service; others enlisted. Some did not graduate from high school. After basic training in the United States, some were shipped to foreign countries, though the mostly World War II-era veterans we spoke to managed to avoid front-line fighting. They were still far away from home, family and friends, but they were proud to serve their country.
“I enlisted in the Air Force. I did not want to be drafted,” said Sergeant John Nafus, a resident of Clarks Summit Senior Living. “I went to basic training in Texas and then was sent to Oklahoma, where I went to school to be trained as a firefighter. I then went to the Philippines where I stayed for 18, months putting out fires in dumpsters, in the grass and two planes. It is something you do not forget. It was the longest four years of my life.”
“I volunteered for the Army Infantry,” said Fred Smith, a resident of Clarks Summit Senior Living, who attained the rank of lieutenant. “I was sent to Japan to keep the peace there. It was the thing to do to be patriotic.”
“I was drafted right after high school,” said Robert Mancabelli, a resident of Elan Gardens. “I went to South Carolina for basic training and then from there went to Texas. I was with the Signal Corp where I’d set up radio communication between companies. I also repaired any problems. I enjoyed it and learned how radios worked.”
“I was in the Public Health Service,” said Leonard Albert, a resident of Elan Gardens. “I was listening to the radio when Pearl Harbor happened. I did not want to be drafted and wanted to be a dentist. The Army provided all the dental equipment. The program was discontinued but the government allowed me to finish the program. I was at Temple University studying to be a dentist. I was lucky that I had no war experience.”
Events are planned throughout the Abingtons area to honor veterans:
• On Friday, Nov. 10, a Veterans Day spaghetti dinner will be held at the Waverly Community House, 1115 N. Abington Road in Waverly Township, 5 to 7 p.m. The event is free and donations will be accepted for the Pennsylvania Wounded Warriors. Musical entertainment will be provided by Jenny Johnson and Pete Noto.
• Abington Memorial Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 7069 will hold its annual Veterans Day event at the post home, 402 Winola Road in Clarks Summit. The event will start at 11 a.m. and is free and open to veterans and the public. There will be a presentation of colors and patriotic songs. A luncheon will follow the program. Dave Jones is the post commander.
• At Elan Gardens, 465 Venard Road in South Abington Township, members of the Post No. 7069 will participate in a flag raising and 21-gun salute on Friday, Nov. 10. The event will be held outside, weather permitting, at 2 p.m.
Veterans will be introduced at 2:15 p.m. Patrick Williams is the guest speaker. He is a veteran of the Army and a member of the Clarks Summit borough council.
At 2:30 p.m. there will be a patriotic sing-along, followed by a dessert reception at 3:30 p.m.
• The owners of Eagle Cleaners, 531 S. State St., will donate all the money they receive in sales on Veteran’s Day directly to Equines for Freedom, a nonprofit organization treating active and former military personnel who are experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.