Wayne County Disabled American Veterans give back to veterans in nursing homes

Wayne County Disabled American Veterans give back to veterans in nursing homes
DAV shares Christmas with West View veterans
By BOBBY WARREN Staff Writer Published: December 22, 2015 4:00 AM

WOOSTER -- They were brave men; young men who left homes and families to serve their countries, some in country, some overseas.

But, when a group from the Wayne County Chapter of the Disabled American Veterans showed up to deliver some Christmas cheer and chat with veterans at West View Healthy Living on the afternoon of Saturday, it was an emotional time for some.

"It's really something," said Robert Martin. He served in the Navy from 1955-1957 in Hawaii. "I didn't think anyone would do it."

But Dean Lund, Charlie Ross, Chuck Dudley, Hal Fulton, Richard Dobec and Jason Winkleman (along with his wife, Crystal, and sons, Tyler and Trevor) of the DAV Chapter 44 did. They brought Christmas cards, letters and blankets for all of the veterans. The blankets were from a women's ministry at Smithville Brethren Church.

For some, the DAV members were kind strangers who came bearing gifts and well-wishes, and for others, it was like a family reunion.

Fulton and Tony Grifo shared some time together. Both served in the U.S. Air Force and trained at the same base a couple years apart.

"I'm very thankful" for the gifts, Grifo said. "A lot of things happen here, but this is special."

Hal Nielson, who served in the Navy cleaning up bombs from the bottom of the Bismarck Sea after World War II, found several familiar faces among the DAV members because he served with them in the 555th Honors Detachment.

This is the fourth year the group has distributed Christmas gifts. A year ago, the group bit off more than it could chew, Winkleman said. Members went to about every nursing home delivering gifts. This year, they visited two: Glendora and West View.

While veterans like Jim McConahay (Army), Don Aber (Army Air Corps during World War II) and others were very appreciative for the gifts and the fellowship, the DAV members seemed to appreciate the time spent with the veterans more.

"This is very honorable," said Lund, who is the group's commander. "This is a pleasure. I believe this is one of the best things we can do to honor them for their past service. They did their time, and we're very thankful."

"Some of them don't have families, and we try to cheer them up as much as we can," Ross said.

"It is our pleasure," Dudley said. "It's an honor and a privilege to be with fellow veterans, especially from World War II."

"I get a big thrill" doing this, said Fulton. "These are people who have done things.

"They might look old and beat up, but they have done amazing things in their lives."

"This is fantastic," Mary Norris said of the visit. "Some of the men are really humbled."

Norris, who is life enrichment director at West View, said the veterans really appreciate being recognized for their service.

Reporter Bobby Warren can be reached at 330-287-1639 or bwarren@the-daily-record.com. He is @BobbyWarrenTDR on Twitter.