Truly a day to remember

By on May 29, 2019

Picnics, parades, family cookouts — they’re all great, as long as you remember the reason for that extra vacation day, said a soldier who has served his country for more than 30 years.
Brigadier General (retired) Wilbur E. Wolf III was the featured speaker for Ephrata’s Memorial Day ceremony, held at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field on Monday.

Remembering the sacrifices of so many requires a grateful heart, Wolf said.

“We give tribute, not only to those who have given the last full measure to God and country, but also to those who have not died but who suffer in mind and body due to the terrible consequences of war,” Wolf said.

Wolf served in the Army and National Guard for a total of 31 years, including five years overseas for deployments.

A few hundred people turned out for the ceremony under clear skies Monday morning, many dressed in red, white, and blue. Many veterans wore caps that identified their branch of service.

Wolf thanked the community for turning out in force, but said there are people who take our freedoms for granted.

“Freedom is not free,” Wolf said. “We pause for a pittance of time to honor those who lie in marked and unmarked graves… memories fade over time, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying the weekend, but I just ask that we all strive to remember the reason for this day.”

Raymond Moyer, 78, of Lincoln, is a retired US Army major and knows exactly what the general was talking about.

Moyer served in the Army from 1957 to 1979, and was in Vietnam from 67-68, around the area of Cu-Chi, seeing action during that conflict.

“I was glad to be home,” Moyer said.

Because of his stint in Vietnam, 50 years ago, Moyer is still fighting the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and was also exposed to Agent Orange, which has caused him physical health problems.

“I loved the ceremony today,” Moyer said. “The general was tremendous and his speech touched my heart.”

Vietnam veterans did not all receive a wholehearted welcome from their country when they returned, said Moyer’s wife, Jan.

“We really appreciate what they’re starting to do now, recognizing the vets who didn’t get those honors when they returned home,” Jan Moyer said. “It was heavenly to see him get a service pin (recently) and get the recognition he deserves.”

Gary Sensenig, 70, of Ephrata, served in the US Army in Vietnam, from 1970 -71.

“I just really appreciate this day,” Sensenig said. “I feel it’s a good time to honor those who gave their lives and honor those who continue to keep our country safe.”

Sensenig brought with him a true treasure, his father, Raymond Sensenig, 94, a veteran of World War II who now resides in Ephrata Manor. Raymond has clear memories of his years as a soldier during wartime, marching through Europe while being fired upon, running from tanks, grenades, and rifles.

“We were under fire clear across Germany,” Raymond Sensenig said. “That was for several months; it was quite an experience.

“We crossed the Elbe River into Holland and saw action there, too,” Raymond said. “I was all over Europe; France, Belgium, England, and I finished in Germany. That was at the end of the war then.

“I do remember training in the desert and then getting sent to a cold place like Germany,” Raymond said with a smile.

“I served in Germany one year after the war ended, too,” Raymond said. “We didn’t see the (concentration) camps, but we saw where many, many people were buried.”

The World War II soldier, a member of the Greatest Generation, said he is proud to have served his country.
“This is very nice and Memorial Day (recognition) is good anywhere you have it,” Raymond said.

Don Eisenberger, originally from York, and now an Ephrata resident, served in the Black Aces Fighter Squadron #41, Navy Air, primarily serving aboard ship in the Mediterranean.

“When I enlisted, the squadron was coming back from Vietnam and they decided to keep them out of war missions,” Eisenberger said. “So I wasn’t in a combat situation, but when you work on a flight deck, you see people die and I remember the people that died.”

Eisenberger detailed some maneuvers that ended in fatalities.

“We didn’t have a lot of people, but…,” and Eisenberger pauses, as memories push their way into the solemn day.

Overcome with emotion, Eisenberger recalls the exact number of enlisted men and the exact number of officers that he saw go down.

Wife Sue Eisenberger says her husband is a caring man of strong emotions.

“We do remember those who sacrificed their lives for us,” Sue said. “I’ve been coming to this ceremony for a long time…my stepfather was a World War II vet so we came here as I was growing up.

It’s getting bigger and that’s wonderful.

“I think they’re teaching more about this in school, because more people are coming every year,” Sue said.

The founding fathers decreed that all men are created equal, Wolf said, and while that’s true, at birth, he said there are men and women who rise above.

“There are those who have risen from the masses to serve us all,” General Wolf said, honoring veterans. “It is for you that we say ‘we live in the land of the free because of the brave.’”

“You have sacrificed much,” Wolf told the veterans in the audience. “Those who we honor today have sacrificed all so that people may sleep peacefully, knowing Old Glory will be flying when they wake in the morning.”

Wolf said he served his country because he has seen oppression in the world, and countries that are without basic human rights.

“I served because I believe in our country and I refuse to see the freedoms they earned for us (become lost) and I refuse to see the sacrifices they made to have been in vain,” Wolf said.
David Fedorshak, 54, formerly of Lucerne County and now an Ephrata resident, served in the US Navy from 1982 to 1986, as an electrician’s mate, second class petty officer aboard the USS Peleliu.

The ship was named for an island of the same name and the site of a battle during World War II, he said.

“As a veteran, I have a sense of pride, since the history of our family includes serving in the Armed Forces,” Fedorshak said.

Fedorshak’s father and uncle served in the Korean Conflict, and an older uncle served in WW II.

Fedorshak’s brother served during the Cold War, he said, working in submarines. His sister served in the Navy for 28 years, and participated in the Gulf War, he said.

Now, his son will be going into the Navy as a combat corpsman, Fedorshak said.

Raymond and Gary Sensenig at Ephrata War Memorial Field in Ephrata, PA on May 27, 2019.

at Ephrata War Memorial Field in Ephrata, PA on May 27, 2019.

at Ephrata War Memorial Field in Ephrata, PA on May 27, 2019.

Retired Brigadier General Wilbur E Wolf III at Ephrata War Memorial Field in Ephrata, PA on May 27, 2019.

“I appreciated what the general said,” Fedorshak said. “We have to take the time to pause and realize that freedom is not free &tstr; he (Wolf) hit the nail on the head &tstr; we have to realize how we got here, and why we have our freedoms, I have a great sense of pride that I could serve my country.”

Denton Borry, 76, originally from Schoeneck, now living in Ephrata, served in the US Air Force.

“I was glad to do it and we came here today just to remember those who served,” Borry said. “I’m glad that there’s such a good turnout today.”

“We want to honor not only those who lost their lives, but those who were injured, and their families, too,” said wife Karen Borry. Remarking on the large crowd who attended the morning event, emcee David Palm said, “We’re truly blessed to have so many here today to remember our lost warriors.”

The Rev. Steven Hollinger, who gave the invocation and benediction, said the ceremony was a good way to pay appropriate tribute to those who died for the nation, a nation filled with abundant blessings.

“We pray for those who continue to deal with their grief, who have too-vivid memories of comrades who have fallen, who have emotional burdens and scars of their own physical injuries, and we pray for comfort,” Hollinger said.

Jeff Ellsworth, B.P.O. Elks Exalted Ruler, read the names of all those on the War Memorial, while Elks Auxiliary President Cindy Allison rang a bell for each name.

The Ephrata High School Band provided music, including the anthem of each branch of the military. Maddie Whitcraft was the featured vocal soloist.

Piper Heidi Tylwalk provided opening and closing bagpipe music for the ceremony, ending the day with “Amazing Grace.”

The event was sponsored by the Ephrata Elks B.P.O.E. Lodge #1933, and co-sponsored by the American Legion Post #429, Amvets Post #136, and VFW Post #3376.

Marylouise Sholly is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review. 

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