By SHEILA SELMAN
THE GOSHEN NEWS
GOSHEN — Military service creates a special bond between people — even if they’ve never met before.
That bond was evident Monday morning as about 70 people gathered at the Elkhart County War Memorial in front of the Elkhart County Courthouse to honor all those men and women who have served, or are serving in U.S. Armed Forces.
George Hay, a World War II Navy submariner, said he may see some of his fellow veterans maybe once or twice a year at services like these on Veterans Day or Memorial Day.
“I think of all the sacrifices everybody made to have this day,” Hay said Monday.
Several veterans stopped to greet Hay, including fellow Navy veteran Olimpio Gudi, who has retired to Goshen to be near his daughter. A former Detroit man, Gudi spent nine years in the Navy and traveled in Europe. He didn’t know Hay, but said he recognized a fellow Navy veteran when he saw one and had to shake his hand.
Also greeting Hay was Goshen resident Vince Traxler, a World War II veteran (1942-45).
“I led a charmed life,” Traxler said. After boot camp the Marine Corps sent him to torpedo school.
“The next time I saw a torpedo,” he laughed, “was at the Museum of Science and Industry.”
During his time in the service, Traxler said he ended up as an aviation technician. After the war, Traxler returned home.
Like most Americans at that time, Traxler had a number of friends and schoolmates who were killed during World War II.
“Everyone lost one, two or three people close to them,” he said.
The veterans said they appreciate those who turned out for the service, which included a prayer by chaplain Don Malott, a short speech by veteran Roger Bayak, a 21-gun salute by the honor guard and echo taps.
Almost every year, Vietnam War veterans LeRoy Harshberger and Erwin Smith, both of Goshen, have attended the service.
“It’s always good,” Smith said.