To observe the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4760 held a special luncheon and presentation and hosting dozens of veterans — including four local World War II veterans.
Three of the four men served with the American Merchant Marines: Lee Cox, 94, and Robert “Bob” Barbee, 94, of Sequim, and Art Bradow, 94, of Port Angeles. Claude Giles, 93, of Sequim, served in the Army Air Corps.
Barbee said in his conversations that this was the most Merchant Marines the VFW members had seen together in a while.
John Rust, senior vice-commander of the VFW of Washington, was also in attendance.
Event organizers said they felt honored to have four World War II veterans join the many other veterans who served in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and many other places.
For the afternoon event, former post commander Neil Gamroth shared the history of D-Day and how its impact helped turn the tide of the war against Nazi Germany. He said experts’ estimate more than 71 million people died across the world during the war and that as of 2017 there were more than 400,000 U.S. World War II vets still alive, but that many are dying daily.
Cox said he joined the Merchant Marines at age 16 and served from 1942-47 all over the world, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Cox has been with the VFW in some capacity for more than 25 years including the last 15 in Sequim, he said.
Barbee said he had just arrived in Seattle on D-Day after eight months of island hopping in the South Pacific while serving as a “grease monkey.”
Bradow said he served in the Pacific Ocean in an engine room during the war and at one point his ship was torpedoed and they had to wait to be picked up.
Giles said he was in high school during D-Day and he joined the Army Air Corps at 18 but he didn’t go to flight school until 1947 as a Navy pilot. He worked for 21 years as a pilot serving in the Korean War and Vietnam War in different capacities.
For more information about Sequim VFW Post 4760, 169 E. Washington St., see vfwpost4760.com or call 360-683-9546 or 360-683-9123.