SAN ANTONIO, August 22, 2016 – Villa de San Antonio, a premier senior living community, recently unveiled the community’s new veterans’ wall honoring 40 residents who served in the United States military. The veterans’ wall features a photo of each veteran along with a brief detailing of their military service. During a special celebration, retired USAF Col. Glenn R. Hover spoke about the valor and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our country. Many of the 40 veteran residents attended the ceremony, including husband and wife John and Dorothy Weber, both of whom served in the Navy during World War II. For Dorothy Weber particularly, the veterans’ wall is a unique recognition for her service in the Navy’s Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) program during World War II.
“I am very excited to see everyone’s photos up on the wall,” said Weber. “The veterans’ wall is a wonderful way to pay tribute to those who served, and I’m happy that Villa de San Antonio is providing an opportunity for younger generations to understand what we did for them and the future of our country. During my time with the WAVES, I worked in a support role as a switchboard operator maintaining communications for the Navy. I was employed by Southwestern Bell as a long distance operator when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and I joined the Navy in March 1944 and served until February 1946. It’s interesting to see how much things have changed in the military over the years – especially for women. Those of us that volunteered during World War II opened new doors for women, and it’s an honor to receive this recognition. I am honored to have served in World War II and receive praise for my service, but so many who served in Korea and Vietnam deserve the same recognition. The veterans’ wall includes all wars and it gives the others some of the recognition they deserve.”
Like Dorothy, her husband John is a veteran. John enlisted in the U.S. Navy in March of 1942 and began his service aboard a battleship called the USS Idaho. He had known Dorothy since age five, and the two reunited while based outside of San Diego in 1944. Soon after that encounter, he was transferred aboard the USS Hornet where he remained until he was discharged in December of 1945. The couple was married soon after and has been together for 70 years.
“John gets very emotional when discussing his service,” said Weber. “It’s a huge part of who he is and his family, as his brother also served in the Navy and his mother was in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). He’s proud to have played a role in defending our country’s interests during the war. It’s something that impacted our lives tremendously and still does to this day. I was on the switchboards on December 7, 1941, the day everything changed and the war began, and I was there when it was over. I’ll never forget what my service was like, and I hope that we do our part to make sure future generations understand how we sacrificed to provide a secure future. Every veteran’s story is different, and it’s our job to make sure they’re not forgotten.”
For resident Charles Nelsen, who served in the US Airforce for 20 years, being recognized for his service is a reminder of a job well done. He hopes the installation of the veterans’ wall will inspire others to share their stories, especially those who have served recently.
“It’s nice for the community to recognize all of us,” said Nelsen. “It’s important that we continue to show all veterans that we appreciate them, after all, we wouldn’t be here without their sacrifice. It’s difficult to see our young men and women coming home today with such challenges adjusting back to civilian life. We need to do what we can to make sure that they are not forgotten either.”
Nelsen entered the US Airforce as an aviation cadet in 1954 and received his wings in 1955. He had a total of 5,687 hours of flight time, 1,035 hours of them that were spent in combat time. During his time in Vietnam, Nelson was a member of a special operations group flying as a spotter in C119K gunships over the Ho Chi Minh trail interdicting traffic. Often on these missions AAA gunfire was used against them to defend the trail.
After returning home from this assignment he returned to his SAC unit, flying as an Electronic Warfare Officer in B-52 aircraft which were based in the South Pacific. He then flew in three linebacker missions over North Vietnam. There the aircraft faced SAM missiles, a very deadly threat not easily evaded. For his service to the country in Vietnam, Nelsen received the Bronze Star. Subsequently he received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his missions spent over North Vietnam.
“We’re incredibly honored to acknowledge our veteran residents for their service and dedication to our country,” said Jerry Stanley, executive director of Villa de San Antonio. ”Their achievements and stories are a lesson about what it means to sacrifice and stand up for others. These men and women put their own lives aside and on the line to make sure that each of us had the opportunity for a bright and free future. Installing our veterans’ wall here at Villa de San Antonio is the least we can do to show our appreciation for their labors, and we hope that it inspires others in the San Antonio community to pay their respect to veterans and thank them for a job well done.”