Submitted by: Susan Myers

Category: Stories

A gentle breeze pushed white billowy clouds across the blue sky as a nice sized group of friends and loved ones gathered around the new rot iron fences installed by Boy Scout Brennen Cruise for his Eagle Scout project. Monday, Memorial Day, Dalton area American Legion Mintken-Davison Post 301 honored three men for 60 years of continuous membership. Certificates were presented to Russell Freeburg, Ted Panas and Ray Ernest by past Post Commander Rodney McConnell and present Post Commander John Sanna during the Memorial Day ceremonies held at Dalton Cemetery.

Russell Freeburg, a veteran of the U.S. Navy, served on the oil tanker USS Monongahela (AO-42), and while stationed in California, joined the Legion when he came home on leave in the spring of 1954. The second U.S. Navy ship named for the Monongahela River in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, the Monongahela was built in 1942 and saw service during World War II and the Korean War.

Raymond Ernest joined the Legion the first time in 1948, then dropped out for a couple of years before rejoining. An Army veteran, Ray’s last two engagements were in Florida and Michigan. In Florida, Raymond served in a psychiatric ward working with veterans returning with battle fatigue. Ray’s last assignment was at Battle Creek Sanitarium, Michigan, where he worked in the orthopedic hospital now named Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center.

“I found out this last summer that Senator Bob Dole was a patient (in Michigan) while I was working there,” mentioned Ray. “I may very well have served him. He spent three years recuperating from his injuries, and was not able to use his arms the first year.”

Veteran Ted Panas served in the Army infantry at Camp Rucker in Dale County, Alabama. Ted recalls that an officer came in to the area where he was and asked if anyone could type. Ted said, “Sure, I can type.” And the remainder of the time, he spent in the office, making out shipping papers for those who were to be shipped out. “I learned to type at Dalton High School,” said Panas.

Members of the Mintken-Davison Post 301 honored local veterans and those who have passed away with a 21 gun salute following Father David Rykwalder’s address.

Father Rykwalder encouraged remembrance, remembrance for those who have died and for what they have died. “The freedoms we enjoy and must protect came with the blood of those who were willing to risk and give their lives. Freedom comes with a price.”
Esther Wilson played taps and Leon Gillespie opened and closed the service in prayer.

Photo: Russ Freeburg, Ted Panas and Ray Ernest (L-R) are recognized for their 60 continuous
years of service to the Legion.

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Susan Myers

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