Veterans memorial unveiled at Brewster Place
TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Brewster Place veterans can go inside to the “Hall of Honor” to keep the memory alive of those who served.
More than 100 veterans are honored by their family and friends through honor tiles. They line the walls of the memorial with their names and years served, while a video screen plays a montage of pictures and recordings of them telling their stories.
One of the veterans is Gerald “Jerry” Hinton.
“I’m 102 in June, I didn’t think I’d live that long.”
Hinton is a U.S. Army World War II vet who fought on the Normandy beaches at the D-Day invasion. He landed on the beach with a water-proofed jeep he was told to drive. He said they could hear the guns when they landed, but followed orders. The orders, after winning the battle at Normandy, were to go to the Battle of the Bulge. Which Hinton said was not easy by any means -- in fact, it was cold and terrible.
“It was snow about 10 inches deep and one time I know I missed the road and ran off into a ditch and an infantry had to come over and lift my jeep back in the road.”
He said he was with General George Patton during some of his time in battle who constantly gave commanding orders. He was sent to Belgium, then to Holland and crossed to the Rhine River alongside the British and headed east to Berlin, Germany. Where he said Germans were lined up on pontoons with rifles shooting at anything moving in the water.
Finally the war ended and Hinton was recognized for serving five years.
Hinton said he saw a lot of men without limbs. He saw friends, like Ruck from Nebraska, lose their lives.
“I think he was killed the first day. He was laying wire. Him and Van Horn at a sunken road in Normandy and a mortar lit behind him and got him in the back. Van Horn lived but I don’t know. He was pretty torn up in the back, but I don’t know if whether he -- last I ever saw of Van Horn was that day.”
Hinton ended with saying he doesn’t want to see anymore world wars but knows that may not be true.
Brewster Place President and CEO Joe Ewert said they showed pictures of veterans for one month in 2016, but needed to do something bigger.
“It was always fun for me to take guests through there and describe some of these stories in the words that I had been given and think about the sacrifices they had made and and really find inspiration to do more and do better with what we’ve been given and live up to their example.”
Now the Brewster community has a sacred, secure place for them to honor veterans, like Hinton.
“It’s wonderful to see the faces of the family members, and even some of the veterans themselves, come,” said Ewert. “They look over the stones and they may look for their loved ones’ name and you can see them looking at all the other names they recognize and remembering those people. It’s really fantastic.”
Ewert, a veteran who deployed with the 89th Regional Support Command, said they will continue to add more honor tiles to the granite wall with pictures of men and women in uniform on the video montage. Anyone connected to Brewster Place -- residents and employees’ friends/family -- can go see it.
They raised funds for the hall from veterans and their friends and family and community partnerships. He said it’s important to remember the sacrifices veterans made.
Those with connections to Brewster, such as employees’ and residents’ families and friends, are the only ones with access to the memorial.
Washburn Rural High School’s Air Force ROTC color guard posted colors to start the celebration. The 312th Army Band out of Lawrence played on stage for the Brewster community as well.
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