Thank you Veterans!

Thanks to Mike Rosso, and Facebook, this united thank you focuses on both the importance of working for our freedom, as well as the unique services provided by each branch of military service.

Today, may we take a moment to remember not only those that fought for our freedom, but those that fought for their beliefs, as well. 

Too many young lives are sacrificed before we truly understand the significance of such an act.

Thank you to all Veterans that served our country during times of war, as well as peace.

Chosin Few Marine Corporal - Marion Charron - Korean War Veteran

Marion Charron, a veteran from Omaha, Nebraska, was honored at the Omaha VFW Post 2503 on November 7, 2013. He is the only remaining Nebraska survivor of the Chosin Few in the United States Marine Corp. Remembered for both his service to the United States during the Korean War and his ongoing commitment to volunteer work, Marion proudly serves his community  and carries on a tradition of giving back.

Memories of the Korean War

Mr. Charron served the United States during one of the worst war tragedies in our military history. As a United States Marine Corp Corporal, he fought with his men in North Korea on the Chosin Reservoir. For one grueling month, December, 1950, he led his squad of the 1st Marine Division, 4.2 Motor Company to reinforce the U.S. Army's 7th Division, as well as members of the British Royal Marine Commandos. With the addition of the Marine platoons, the United Nation troops on the Chosin Reservoir numbered 15,000.

During this time, the Chinese trapped those on the reservoir. With approximately 120,000 troops at their disposal, the Chinese managed to trap the forces into four main groups. With road blocks set up, and a superior advantage in many ways, the battle began in minus 30-degree weather, on November 27, 1950.

With the reinforcement, the U.N. troops fought their way through one road block after another. On December 11, platoons of Marines were reduced to squads of 9-12 men. Sick bays couldn't begin to serve the wounded. Those less critically injured were left outside in sub-zero weather, then covered with canvas and straw.

As the battle continued, temperatures dropped to minus 45-degrees below zero, winds reached 70 m.p.h., and snow flakes the size of a half dollar caused even greater suffering as frostbite hampered the troops even more.

During the night, the Marines were not permitted to start fires, and the pup and warming tents, which were not on-line, were poorly constructed as stakes couldn't be hammered into frozen ground.

As casualties mounted, and General Almond refused to send in additional reinforcements, the troops fought their way to the sea, bringing the dead and wounded with them.

Chosin Reservoir & Korean War map

Mr. Charron recalled the horror of watching the stunning assaults by the Chinese forces. Not only did they attack while the U. N. forces slept, but they would bomb the lead transport vehicle in a line of wounded, blowing it up and stopping forward movement. Then, the Chinese would surround the remaining transport vehicles, with the use of blow torches, would light all of the U.N. troops on fire, including those injured.

With a squad of 9 men, Mr. Charron set a brave example and continued to fight, despite having his ear drum blown out, and both his feet and right hand and arm severely frostbitten.

When the U.N. forces reached the sea, a bloody trail marked the battle's toll. Of the 15,000 allies that started this heroic episode, 12,000 died. Of those remaining, most suffered from frostbite and other injuries.
7th Infantry Division assists the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Resevoir

The photograph shows the 7th Infantry Division 155mm self-propelled howitzers near Sinhung protecting the perimeter around the seaport city of Hamhung during the withdrawal of the 1st Marine Division from the Chosin Resevoir.

According to the Britannica, the Chinese remained vague on their losses in the battle, but their own records and UNC estimates put the Ninth Army Group’s casualties in the range of 40,000 to 80,000, when one counts combat deaths and wounded plus deaths and incapacity from the cold. The 1st Marine Division lost 4,385 men to combat and 7,338 to the cold. Other X Corps losses amounted to some 6,000 Americans and Koreans.

Survival for these ground troops was due, not only to their own gallant valor, but also due to the support of the U.S. Navy, Marine and Air Force fliers.

This battle lead to 17 Medals of Honor, 70 Navy Crosses, and numerous Distinguished Service Crosses. Consequently, more honors were bestowed on these troops than any other battle in the United States' history.

Mr. Charron is the only remaining Nebraska Marine that is a member of the elite Chosin Few.  He is the President of the Great Plains Chapter of the Chosin Few, which includes the Marines, as well as members of the United States Army 7th and 27th Infantries.

Post War

Mr. Charron, and his wife, Charlene, enjoy traveling and volunteer work within the community, as well as the Omaha VFW Post 2503.

While initially a member of the American Legion in  February,1952, as well as the Valley, Nebraska VFW Post in 1952, in 1992, he transferred his membership in the Valley VFW Post to the Omaha VFW Post 2503 where he was honored with a Dove of Peace quilt.

An active volunteer, Mr. Charron volunteers at the Veterans' Hospital, as well as the Omaha VFW Post. Some of his dedication to the community comes back through the following experiences:
  • VFW Post 2503 Building Committee for 10 years
  • VFW Post 2503 Honor Guard from 1995 to present
  • VFW Post 2503 Captain of the Honor Guard in 2000
  • Driver of the 40&8 train
  • Great Plains President of the Chosin Few of the Marines

The 40 & 8 is a veterans' organization that was founded after World War I. One contribution he shares with pride is the fact that more than 2,500 nurses received scholarships through the 40 & 8 program, in a forty-year period.

According to the Forty and Eight web site, the Forty & Eight was founded in 1920 by American veterans returning from France.  Originally an arm of The American Legion, the Forty & Eight became an independent and separately incorporated veteran's organization in 1960.  Membership is by invitation of honorably discharged veterans and honorably serving members of the United States Armed Forces.

The official emblem of the 40 & 8, the triangular shape suggests Veterans who served in the air, on land and at sea.

Mr. Charron not only is a member of this organization, but he is responsible for the maintenance, as well as driving, their parade train. Built around a 1962 Ford 2 ton pickup truck, the engine is featured in parades throughout the Omaha region.

The quilt includes blocks from quilters from across the country. The centerpiece is doves in the window. These doves represent a peaceful offering to the home.


According to VFW Post 2503


Marion served in the United States Marine Corps in Korea with the 4.2 Mortar Company, 7th Marine Regiment, First Marine Division in 1950  through 1951.  He spent 11 months in combat and  fought in combat at the Chosin Resevoir.  In the period between 27 November and 13 December 1950, 30,000 United Nations (UN) troops (nicknamed "The Chosin Few") under the command of Major General Edward Almond were encircled by approximately 600,000 Chinese troops under the command of Song Shi-Lun. Although Chinese troops managed to surround and outnumber the UN forces, the UN forces broke out of the encirclement while inflicting crippling losses on the Chinese.

Marion is a life member in the VFW since 1990 and joined  the Honor Guard in 1995 serving as its Captain in 2000 - 2001. He also has served and contributed much to Post 2503 in a variety of different ways.   Please congratulate Marion for his service to our country, the VFW and Post 2503.

Additional Resources


Mr. Charron shared fascinating books on the Korean War. For additional information, consider reading books, like these:

United States Army - Bob Podany - Korean War Veteran

Bob Podany is a veteran of the Korean War and received his quilt on September 4, 2013, at Omaha's VFW Post 2503. Not only did he serve his country with pride and dignity, but Bob continues to give back generously to our nation as a volunteer and an active VFW member.

Korean War Memories

 Following the battle at Chipyong-ni, in 1951, the United Nations continued to keep troops in the area to protect all advancements. Mr. Podany joined this group in March of 1952.

According to Armistice Agreement, the Korean War, which began on June 25, 1950, when the North Koreans invaded South Korea, officially ended on July 27, 1953. At 10 a.m., in Panmunjom, scarcely acknowledging each other, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William K. Harrison, Jr., senior delegate, United Nations Command Delegation; North Korean Gen. Nam Il, senior delegate, Delegation of the Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteers, signed 18 official copies of the tri-language Korean Armistice Agreement.

By July 1951, the conflict had reached a stalemate, with the two sides fighting limited engagements, but with neither side in a position to force the other’s surrender. Both the United States and China had, at this point, achieved the short-term goal of maintaining the demarcation line at the 38th parallel, while the North and South Koreans had failed in the larger goal of uniting the country under their preferred political systems. Representatives of all the parties began to discuss peace.

According to Wikipedia, during the Korean War, the 7th Division saw a total of 850 days of combat, suffering 15,126 casualties, including 3,905 killed in action and 10,858 wounded.

Photograph of the 7th Infantry at Chipyong-ni

7th Infantry at Chipyong-ni

A member of the United States Army 7th Infantry, Mr. Podany's deployment included both combat and noncombat duties. After joining troops at Chipyong-ni, in March of 1952, he remained in North Korea until September of 1953.

Mr. Podany vividly recalls his first experience with mortar fire. Seconds after the Chinese ammunition exploded nearby, it threw dirt over Mr. Podany and his fellow soldiers.

He was considered one of those enlisted men considered to be sacrificial goats. Under the command of a Quartermaster, a skeleton crew defended the Chipyong-ni area under the constant threat of a napalm attack by the United States Air Force.

 After the Armistice was signed, Mr. Podany and the 7th Infantry remained in Korea to bury the dead and deliver necessary supplies.

Civilian Life

Mr. Podany talks of  the "love of his life," Marilyn, with the glow of a newly wed, but shares 63 years of life with her, raising 5 children together.

After the American Legion Post closed in downtown Omaha, Mr. Podany joined the Omaha VFW Post 2503. Volunteer work and leadership positions continue to mark his time at the Post. These experiences include, but are not limited to, the following:
  • Joined the Honor Guard in 1997
  • Captain of the Honor Guard 2001 and 2002
  • Sergeant of Arms
  • Building Committee Member for 13 years
  • Part of the monthly Hamburger Crew
Mr. Podany spent 43 years in the printing business. This includes working at Address-a-Graph. His employment included 22 years as the Service Manager. Address-a-Graph made the first credit cards in the country, as well as dog tags. When the business was sold, he worked for Multi-Graphics and Triangle Printing. During his tenure, he became an Instructor of Sales, traveling throughout portions of the United States to share his knowledge of the business.

According to VFW Post 2503

Bob currently holds the Combat Infantryman Badge.  He served  in Korea  with the United States Army, 7th Infantry Division from December 19th, 1951 through completion of his service  to our country on September 27th, 1953 with the 7th QM Division.   He has been a member of the Honor Guard for over 15 years and has supported over 3,500 funerals and functions.  He served as Honor Guard Captain from 2001 to 2002 and has continued to serve as Sergeant since 2009.  He has contributed to the success of VFW Post 2503 by serving in a multitude of volunteer activities. Please congratulate Bob for his service to our country and to his community.

The quilt was made by DeAnn Nichelson, of Omaha, Nebraska, and quilted by Julia Schroeder of Lincoln, Nebraska.

Other Resources of Interest

 Medal of Honor recipients

United States Army Corporal - Denny Cernik - Korean War Veteran

Mr. Denny Cernik, shown on the left, was awarded a quilt by Dove of Peace on Thursday, March 13, at the Omaha VFW Post 2503. He served the United States during the Korean War as a Corporal in the Army.

Six weeks after marrying his bride, Mr. Cernik was drafted. Prior to service in Korea, he was stationed at  Fort Carson and Fort Lenard Wood. He arrived in Korea on July 15, 1953. Shortly thereafter, Armistice ended the war on July 27, 1953, with the official signing of the truce.

Thereafter, Mr. Cernik worked in the finance department for four months, in Korea, and the remainder of his two years of service in Japan.

Mr. Cernik was assigned to work in a joint program that combine the resources of the Army with that of the Air Force. In this instance, he was assigned to work with an engineering battalion. He was one of two men responsible for the payroll of 195 records. This included all of the ledgers and logs associated with bookkeeping.

The Good Conduct and Korean War Service Medal are amongst those that Mr. Cernik received.

His fondest memory includes all of the nice people he met while on duty.

A member of a large family, consisting of two brothers and three sisters, he is also the proud father to two daughters and a grandfather to two grandsons.

One of the ways Mr. Cernik gives back to the community is through volunteer work for the Omaha VFW Post 2503. As shown in the photo, Mr. Cernik was surprised with the quilt while he was cooking for their monthly taco night. His life also includes volunteer work at his church.

Vietnam veteran and fellow VFW member, Bob, shares the job of holding up the quilt.

The quilt, while not patriotic in color, certainly captures the spirit of the United States. It consists of blocks used during the rugged years of our growth. The "Log Cabin" blocks, bordering the quilt, represent the heart or heart of the home, while the logs surround it represent all of the attributes of a home.

The stars in the quilts center are called "Portsmouth Star." While they have numerous meanings, the most relevant belongs to the Abolitionists. Quilts were made by women that used them to provide messages to the slaves.

When four log cabin blocks are combined, as they are on the back of the quilt, it represents the community uniting to build a barn, and the blocks are then called "Barn Raisers." This Barn Raiser represents the unity of a community that comes together around the heart and warmth of the hearth.

Arnold G., World War II Army Veteran

Arnold Gerst served the United States during World War II. After helping defeat forces in Japan, he was sent to Europe to continue a combat assignment. Due to his selfless act, our freedom and rights are honored today. Arnold was honored at Omaha's VFW Post 2503 on October 3, 2013. Thank you for serving the United States with such courage, Arnold!

According to VFW Post 2503

Arnold Gerst, a Purple Heart recipient, served with the United States Army in WWII from February 7, 1943 through December 1945.  He served in combat in the Aleution Islands in 1943 and was deployed to Sicily, then Naples, Italy, served in combat in Italy and then flew gliders into southern France. Moved to southern Germany and then Salsburg, Austria when the war ended in Europe.  Arnold has been a member of Post 2503 Honor Guard since 1990 and has served as its Captain.  Arnold is an active member of Post 2503 and has actively served the Post in a wide variety of functions during his long membership in the Post.  Please congratulate Arnold for his service to our country and for his decades of service to his community.

The quilt was made by three young women that are members of Nebraska's 4-H, at the ages of 9, 10, and 11.

Marine Corporal - Danny Lang

Danny Lang served the United States both in war and peace. He was honored on November 11, 2013, at the Omaha VFW Post 2503 for his contribution during the Korean War as a Marine Corporal.

Marine Corp. Photo Library link
According to the Marine website, small unit leaders are placed in positions of great responsibility in the Marine Corps, and many of these positions are filled by Lance Corporals and Corporals.

Danny saw fourteen months of active service in Korea. As a member of an amphibious unit, his assignment included delivering ammunition to troops on the mainland, as well as taking out the wounded and dead.

Marine Corp History and Heritage link
Semper Fidelis distinguishes the Marine Corps bond from any other. It goes beyond teamwork—it is a brotherhood that can always be counted on. Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what.

The Marine motto, Semper Fidelis, which means "always faithful" in Latin, certainly exemplifies Danny Lang's contributions to the United States.

A member of VFW Post 2503 Honor Guard, Danny is a presence at funerals and functions honoring other veterans.

 His service was not without its downside. Frostbitten hands and feet are a painful reminder of his dedication to the United States.

He also spent 35 years giving back to the Omaha community as a Deputy Sheriff for Douglas County. Two sons followed his background in law enforcement, and currently serve as policemen.

This patriotic signature block quilt, that Danny Lang received, includes personalized messages from the state of Nebraska, Iowa, and Washington. The comments are inspirational.

Additional information and research:

Wikipedia information on DUWK link
Members of Omaha VFW Post 2503 proudly refer to Danny as a Marine DUWC/DUWK (pronounced duck). He inherited this nickname because his Marine unit used a dirigible craft referred to as the DUWK/DUWK (colloquially known as Duck). It is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck that was designed by a partnership under military auspices of Sparkman & Stephens and General Motors Corporation (GMC) for transporting goods and troops over land and water and for use approaching and crossing beaches in amphibious attacks.

The designation of DUWC is a military acronym for "Dirigible Unit Watercraft".

The designation of DUKW is not a military acronym. It comes from General Motor Corporation's model naming terminology:
    "D" indicated a vehicle designed in 1942,
    "U" meant "utility",
    "W" indicated two powered rear axles,
    "K" indicated driven front wheels.

These are photos of a DUWC/DUWK used during the Korean War:

A DUWC/DUWK, in use by American troops in France.
Type Amphibious transport
Place of origin United States
Production history
Manufacturer GMC
Number built 21,147
Weight 6.5 short tons (5.9 t) empty
Length 31 ft (9.4 m)
Width 8 ft 27/8 in (2.5 m)
Height 7 ft 1.375 in (2.17 m) without ring mount

ring mount for machine gun fitted to 25% built
Engine GMC 6-cylinder 269 cid
94 hp
Power/weight 14 hp/tonne
Payload capacity 2.5 short tons (2.3 t) or 12 troops
Suspension wheels, 6×6
400 mi (640 km) at 35 mph (56 km/h) on road,
50 nmi (93 km; 58 mi) on water
Speed 50 mph (80 km/h) on road,
5.5 kn (10.2 km/h; 6.3 mph) on water
Friedman, Norman (2002). U.S. amphibious ships and craft: an illustrated design history. Illustrated Design Histories. Naval Institute Press. p. 218. ISBN 1-55750-250-1. Retrieved March 22, 2010.

Other items of interest about the Korean War and the Marines:

Link with interesting information

United States Marine Corp Posters link


Bryan Kulhanek - Marine Corporal during Desert Storm/Desert Shield

Former Marine Corporal, Bryan Kulhanek, received a quilt on February 18, 2014, at the Nebraska Humane Society. He served the United States during Desert Storm/Desert Shield.

Byran Kulhanek is in the center of the photo

Service as a United States Marine

Bryan entered the United States Marine Corp in 1988 and gave the United States four years of active service.

While he entered the Marine Corp. as a infantry man, and finished the Infantry training, he followed through with schooling for Security Forces in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Thereafter, Bryan spent eight months aboard the USS Saratoga CV60 at the start of Desert Storm/Desert Shield.While the ship carried a crew of 5,000, Bryan was one of 80 Marines assigned as part of the Security Forces. Part of his responsibilities included keeping the nuclear weapons safe, as well as ship security. This included 100 aircraft and more than one million pounds of ordinances, which includes bombs and other artillery used by the aircraft.

One of the greatest aspects of his time in the Marines includes the strong bond he made with his fellow Marines. As he put it, "We grew from kids to men together." The group continues to get together for reunions in Jacksonville, Florida, despite twenty years of civilian life and members spread out throughout the country. Bryan stated that if one ever needed support, the group would travel wherever necessary to assist their friends. These men are the as close to as a strong family unit.

Once his role in Desert Storm/Desert Shield was completed, Bryan served until 1992 at Twenty-nine Palms, a United States Marine Corp. Base in the California desert region. He continued infantry training and maneuvers during this time.

One of his most grueling challenges included a four week stint in the mountains. During this time, the team was forced to live and complete their military assignments in the harshest winter conditions the mountains provided.

It was during this time that this group of Marines were put on standby for assignment in the Los Angelos riots. Fortunately, his service was not needed in that role.

Unfortunate Memories

Two memories had a profound impact on the young Marine. The first casualty of the war was a man, LCDR Scott Speicher, nicknamed Spicer. He flew a F18 Hornet into Baghdad on the first strike. While they eventually found his flight suit, he was our country first casualty in Desert Storm.

On December 22, 1990, another tragedy struck as troops left the Saratoga for port at Haifa, Isreal, via ferries. One of the transports sunk, drowning 19-22 Navy seaman. All others were rescued, but it put a damper on the holidays.

Bryan served as part of the Marine Corp. Honor Guard for their funeral, which was televised internationally.

Civilian Life

Born and raised in Fremont, Nebraska, Bryan left the area for his four year stint in the Marine Corp. Upon returning, he became a member of the Police Force in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In 1998, he left the Council Bluffs Police Force and joined the ranks for the Omaha Police Force in Omaha, Nebraska, where he still serves the community.

When talking about his son, Lane, Byran refers to him as the "greatest six year old son." Lane learns a lot from his Dad. At six, Lane decided he would follow in Byran's footsteps, first as a soldier and then as a policeman. Lane hopes to ride in a cruiser someday with his Dad as his partner.

USS Saratoga CV60

The carrier, USS Saratoga CV60, carried out the mission of the first strike on Baghdad. It also earned the world record of making the most transits through the Suez Canal.

While this stately symbol of freedom is no longer in service, the final chapter for the USS Saratoga CV60 is, indeed, a sad one. A Texas firm was paid one cent, yes, one cent, to scrap the vessel.

Signature Block Quilt

The signature block quilt is signed by area residents, including signatures from Nebraska Humane Society team members, Cuddly Care Daycare in Council Bluffs, SAC Federal Credit Union in Omaha, and McDonald's customers.

Bryan continues to serve the United States as a Police Officer for Omaha, Nebraska.

Honoring all Veterans

Although Memorial Day officially passed, please know each and every veteran that endured a military battle can never be honored enough.

The impact war cannot be measured in any human terms, men and women continue to risk their lives to defend beliefs that resonate with their own moral and emotional spirit.

Those that fought to maintain the rights and responsibilities of every United States citizen provided a wealth of freedom understood by few.

Thank you, again , to every veteran involved in a military conflict.

Army Staff Sargent - Sharon Cooper

Retired Staff Sargent Sharon Cooper, a veteran from Omaha, Nebraska, was honored with a quilt on Thursday, December 5, 2013, for her dedication to the United States and a career in the military.  Honored during a meeting at the Omaha Veterans of Foreign War (VFW) Post 2503, she received a patriotic quilt signed by citizens of Nebraska.

After serving the United States as a member of the Army, from 1972 to 1996, Sharon continued to serve the Omaha community through the VFW and education. Her military service included stints in Germany, Japan, Korea, and Hawaii.

On April 30, 1975, the fall of Saigon ended the Vietnam War and prompted one of two waves of emigration from Vietnam to the United States. Sharon was committed to helping refugees resettle and served as one of one hundred women that helped with immigration and immunization. Operation New Life found her working with the refugees medical records, as well as interpreters, she made certain that the appropriate information was compiled for those choosing to reside in one of three states.

One of Sharon's most memorable experiences includes the responsibility bestowed upon her during this period. As she worked for a Lieutenant Colonel, that was swamped with communication, many of the forms requiring an official signature were assigned to Sharon. While a Staff Sargent at that time, Sharon's signature approved the communications.

As a member of Omaha's VFW Post 2503, she is the Junior Vice Commander. She also serves the Post by leading the Voice of Democracy and Patriots' Pen programs for students in Douglas and Sarpy counties.

The Voice of Democracy gives high school students a chance to share their views via a speech, that could result in a $30,000 national prize. The program is open to students in grades 9-12, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories. The deadline for submissions for the 2014-2015 program is November 1, 2014. Download the application at the Voice of Democracy website by clicking on the link.

The theme for 2013-2014 was: “Why I'm Optimistic About our Nation’s Future,” while the new theme for 2014-2015 is: "Why Veterans are Important to our Nation's History and Future."

2016-2017 Voice of Democracy

Please click the following link for additional information regarding the 2017 Voice of Democracy entry form and submission rules.

The Patriot's Pen program is open to students in grades 6-8, who are enrolled in a public, private or parochial high school or home study program in the United States and its territories.

The theme for 2013-2014 was: “Why I'm Optimistic About our Nation’s Future,” while the new theme for 2014-2015 is: "Why Veterans are Important to our Nation's History and Future."

2016-2017 Patriot´s Pen

If you know someone interested in taking part in the 2016-2017 competition, click on the following link: 2017 Patriot´s Pen.

Download the application from the Patriot's Pen post by clicking on the link.

Both, the Voice of Democracy and the Patriot's Pen, are proudly sponsored by the national and local VFW Posts.
While she retired from the Army in 1995, Sharon wanted to continue to serve our nation. Therefore, she chose to work as a teacher for students at Bryan High School, in the Omaha Public School District, as an ROTC instructor.

The signature blocks are signed by people during the Lancaster County Fair, in Lincoln, Nebraska, as well as at other sites, including but not limited to, the Nebraska Humane Society, McDonald's, Hancock Fabric, the Quilted Kitty in Lincoln, and SAC Federal Credit Union. Thanks to all of those signing the blocks. What a tribute to our veterans!