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VALLEY NEWSWATCH / SPECIAL REPORT: VETERANS DAY

November 07, 1994|Michael Arkush

WORLD WAR I: Many people have lied to get out of serving in the Army. Milton Gates lied to get in. Only 16, he desperately wanted to fight in World War I. So he said he was 18. "My brother was going over to fight and I wanted to go too," said Gates, 94, of Reseda. . . . By the time Gates arrived in France, however, the "war to end all wars" was history. Its lasting legacy was Veterans Day, which is this Friday--"the 11th day of the 11th month," when the slaughter ended at the 11th hour.

WORLD WAR II: Of course, the war to end all wars had a sequel. And Ted Fleser, 72, of Woodland Hills, was there, a ranger in the invasions of German-held North Africa and Italy. For Fleser, the rightness of the cause was never in doubt. "It was the last of the good wars," Fleser says. "We felt we were morally right and all that sort of stuff. Vietnam and Korea were police actions."

KOREAN WAR: Police action? Don't whisper the words to Wallace Pohring (above), who saw that conflict as an important battleground against an aggressive tyranny. "Communism was a big threat. South Korea was being overrun," said Pohring, 62, of West Hills. "Korea was also the first real battle that the U.N. was involved with. I had a good feeling because it was a joint effort."

VIETNAM WAR: Don't expect that kind of loyalty from John Enders--he was in Vietnam. Enders, 53, of Canoga Park, was a big believer in the U.S. cause during the war's early days. But, as the anti-war movement intensified in the late '60s, Enders changed his mind. "We should never have been there," he says. "We just poked our nose where we didn't belong."

DESERT STORM: Well, we sure belonged in Kuwait, says Mary Carpenter, 60, of Sylmar, a Navy reserve senior chief petty officer during the Persian Gulf conflict, handling paperwork in Point Mugu. . . . Carpenter, however, isn't entirely satisfied with the results. "If we need to go back, we have to do it without restrictions," she said. Translation: The U.S. still has to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

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