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A Salute to Starr Family Veterans

Every Veteran’s Day I am reminded of my time in service in the US Army. Most of my friends don’t even know that I served, and some are even shocked when they see a picture of me in my BDUs (Battle Dress Uniform) in full camouflage makeup, holding an M-16 rifle! Going into the military was no surprise to my family though… my father started off his military career in the Marine Corps but only lasted a couple days, then he went into the Navy and was sent to Vietnam in 1968-69 working in radio communications (he met and married my mom over there – she was a translator and also the desk clerk at their quarters!).  After Vietnam he trained to become an engineer aboard aircraft carriers and would go out to sea for several months. In 1981 he used the GI Bill to go to school for nursing and branch-transferred into the Army Nurse Corps, then retired in 1992. Since I grew up as a “military brat”, we moved frequently throughout the United States due to my dad’s assignments and training courses – I lived in 10 different places by the time I was thirteen! My dad’s father was a retired Army Quartermaster Officer who served in WWII and the Korean War, my brother was in the Marine Corps Reserves, my husband (whom I met in Army ROTC at Penn State) was an Army Field Artillery Officer, and his father graduated from West Point in 1965 and was sent to fight in the Vietnam War along with many of his classmates.

As you can see, I had a fairly strong military presence in my life, which influenced my decision to serve. I was awarded an ROTC scholarship, so I took 4 years of Army ROTC classes at Penn State, where I learned about military history and tactics, how to march and how to be a soldier, and most importantly I gained leadership skills. At graduation I was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Nurse Corps, and I had the honor of having my dad swear me in! I was then sent to the Army Medical Department’s Officer Basic Course in Ft Sam Houston, TX and then served 5 years on active duty, assigned to the hospitals at Ft. Meade, MD and Ft. Lewis, WA. Even after my military career ended, I continued working at Madigan Army Medical Center as a civilian for a couple more years. Although it seems like a lifetime ago when I got out of the Army in 1997, I am always proud to say “I Served.”

AUDREY DONAGHY, US Army Nurse Corps, Captain 1992-1997
Starr Tour Coordinator 

 

Last year at Veteran’s Day, I casually mentioned to a fellow co-worker that I was in the Army. She thanked me for my service and we wondered if there were other Starr employees who were veterans. Thus the idea to write this blog recognizing Starr employees and their family members who are military veterans came about…

THANK YOU to all those who have served in the past and the present- we are all grateful for your service!

 

Please join me in saluting these other veterans of the Starr Family:

 

I was stationed at Ft Knox, KY and Ft Gordon, GA. I was a Stevedore, but never saw a ship! One of the jobs I had was to shovel coal to heat the barracks. In training I received the High Marksman award.

ALAN GLICKMAN, US Army, Reserves, 1965-1971
Owner of Starr

 


 

I joined to serve my country and to pay for my education.  I was very fortunate to have served 20 years without seeing combat.  My highlights were being able to travel and live in some amazing places.  I spent 6 years in Germany, and one year in Korea. I also served in Oklahoma, California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  It was a very challenging and fulfilling career.

An Interesting Fact: Rick was Audrey’s husband’s Army ROTC instructor at the Penn State Ogontz/Abington branch campus from 1988-1990!

 

RICK WEISS, US Army Field Artillery, Major (Retired) 1972-1992
Tour Director at Starr

 


 

The tears streaming down my face as I humbly try to pay tribute to my hero are no match to the physical and emotional pain my dad, John W. Pazdan, suffered as a witness to the horrors of WWII.  Enlisted in the US Army when he was just 18 years old, he was assigned to the European Theater in 1943.  As a member of the 53/54 Replacement Battalion he served as a crew member of a Sherman M4-A1 medium tank and engaged in battle in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge.  During this conflict, his tank was struck and completely destroyed.  He was ejected from the tank and lay unconscious for 24 hours in sub-freezing weather.  The entire tank crew was killed.  After his rescue, he finished out his term of service for ten months in a hospital bed at Rhoads General Hospital in Utica, New York.

Like so many of the servicemen and women of “The Greatest Generation,” he never shared any of these details with our family.  I can only surmise that his courage and bravery to protect his country when he was a young man extended to protect his four children from knowing the atrocities of war.

As part of my welcome introduction on our Starr tours, I always include a salute to the servicemen and women and by doing so, it’s my way of saying, “Thanks dad, my hero.”

 

CHRISTINE DURLING
Starr Tour Director

 


 

I joined the Reserves during the Vietnam era. Did not leave the US however; was in Louisiana and Texas. Most impacting memory was working as a Medic in the Valley Forge Hospital in PA where all the Amputee Soldiers returned for medical treatments.

JAMES AGASAR, US Army, Reserves, 1967-1973
Starr Driver 

 


 

I come from a family with a lot of military veterans. Several uncles and great uncles in the Navy and Army and one in the Air Force. Unfortunately, most of them have passed and I don’t know their stories, but I still have the letters that my grandfather and father sent back home to my grandmother while they served in the Army and Navy, respectively, mostly reassuring her not to worry about them. My grandmother worried about everyone, all the time, and never gave up on that intense love.

My father was stationed on a naval ship in Norfolk, Virginia at the time of the Vietnam War, but he was never sent anywhere else aside from a brief stint in Panama.  My mother grew up in Norfolk and had several friends in the Navy – she met my father through one of their mutual friends while he was stationed there. He was medically discharged because of a serious illness before he served his full 4 years and returned home to North Jersey. The illness almost killed him, but my grandmother nursed him back to health with beef blood juice and a few other concoctions. My mother drove up almost every weekend, from Virginia, by herself, to visit him. My grandmother thought she was crazy, that no woman should be driving that distance alone to see a man, but my mother quickly grew on her and became the daughter she always wanted.

His father served in the Army during World War II and was stationed in several places throughout Europe. Most of the letters he wrote back home to my grandmother, his fiancé at the time, were to tell her not to worry about him; alerting her when he was going to be on the move and unable to write and reassuring her of his love, and… sometimes gently scolding her for getting upset anyway after not hearing from him. I wish I had the letters she wrote. While he was stationed overseas, his mother and family kept a close watch on her – escorting her everywhere and making sure she wasn’t left alone too much. They cared about her, but she said mostly they were afraid that she would change her mind before my grandfather got back and find someone else. They were married over 60 years before my grandfather passed in 2008. In addition to those precious letters, I still have some of the items he brought back from WWII including a dress sword, some coins, and several medals he earned. He never talked about his experience.

I’m honored to have had so many brave men in my family.

SHANA D’ATTILIO
Marketing Associate at Starr


 

Did you know? Starr offers a 5% discount on all motorcoach trips, all year long to any and all US Veterans!

Starr values our veterans, and would like to formally salute anyone who has risked their lives for our country.

Honoring Our Veterans Through Donations

Doc Hastings once said, “We owe our World War II veterans, and all of our veterans, a debt we can never fully repay.” This November 11th is Veterans Day, a day when we remember and honor those that have fought for our freedom. This Veterans Day, keep in mind the privileges we hold as Americans, and help to empower those that have served our country.

Here are some ways we can help our veterans, no price tag attached.

 

Donate Candy:

Have a lot of leftover Halloween candy? Or, can you just not stand the taste of Twizzlers? Either way, your Halloween candy rejects can go to a good place, and brighten up the day of a soldier. Soldier’s Angels is a charity that, “provides aid and comfort to the men and women of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and their families.” Their mission is to make no soldier go unloved, and you can help them do just that. As part of their Treats for Troops Program, you can donate candy through the mail, or visit or start a registered collection site. They have a goal this year of 17,000 pounds of candy, so drop on by and give some soldiers some sweets. In the event you don’t have any candy, they also accept donations year round, or join their Adopt-A-Soldier Program, and change the lives of some heroes.

 

Send a Thank You Letter:

Nothing can make people smile more than a nice handwritten letter to make you feel more at home. Through Operation Gratitude, you can send letters and thank yous to soldiers that will be sent in the care packages the company delivers. They encourage to include your child on this journey with you, make it happy and colorful, and get ready to make a veteran’s day. Maybe you’ll even make a new friend in the process.

 

 

Donate Your Old Cell Phone:

Sometimes just hearing the voice of a loved one, even if they’re a million miles away, is all you need to feel a little bit closer to home. Sadly, many veterans do not have this opportunity. In 2004, Minutes That Matter was started by two young kids who wanted to change the lives of soldiers. They started this charity and have provided 300 million minutes on the phone for soldiers to talk to their family and friends. To help out Minutes That Matter, donate any old flip phone, smartphone or tablet, even if its cracked. Your donation will help connect families.

 

 

How Starr Honors Veterans:

Starr values veterans, and would like to formally salute anyone who has risked their lives for our country. We honor their sacrifices and they will never be forgotten. Starr’s bus tour division gives a 5% discount to all active or retired military, disabled veterans, and military reservists. When making a reservation for a bus trip, please provide Military ID and Starr’s Travel Advisor will be happy to offer the discount.

 

Be sure to check out last year’s post for more charities to check out to support our veterans!

The Origin of Memorial Day

The Origin of Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called ‘Decoration Day’, is a day of remembrance for those who have died while in our nation’s service, and to commemorate those who served and have passed on. There are many stories as to its actual beginnings, with over two dozen cities and towns laying claim to being the birthplace of Memorial Day. There is also evidence that organized women’s groups in the South were decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. A hymn published in 1867, “Kneel Where Our Loves are Sleeping” by Nella L. Sweet carried the dedication “To The Ladies of the South who are Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead.”¹ While Waterloo N.Y. was officially declared the birthplace of Memorial Day by President Lyndon Johnson in May 1966, it’s difficult to prove conclusively the origins of the day. It is more likely that it had many separate beginnings; each of those towns and every planned or spontaneous gathering of people to honor the war dead in the 1860’s tapped into the general human need to honor our dead. All these events contributed honorably to the growing movement that culminated in an official proclamation in 1868 establishing the holiday. It is not important who was the very first, what is important is that Memorial Day was established. Memorial Day is not about division. It is about reconciliation; it is about coming together to honor those who gave their all for our great Nation.

Combined Honor Guard of Pennsylvania Volunteers

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), the organization of Union veterans’ of the Civil War. He issued General Order No. 11 establishing the project of honoring the noble war dead of the nation. Accordingly, the day was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of the Union dead at Arlington National Cemetery and throughout the country. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states. The South refused to acknowledge the day, honoring their dead on separate days until after World War I (when the holiday changed from honoring just those who died fighting in the Civil War to honoring Americans who died in any war, conflict or in service). It is now celebrated in almost every state on the last Monday in May (passed by Congress with the National Holiday Act of 1971 (P.L. 90 – 363) to ensure a three day weekend for Federal holidays).

The first observance of Decoration Day in the Philadelphia area was on May 30, 1868 at historic Laurel Hill Cemetery on Ridge Ave. in the City. It was sponsored by the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.). This Holiday continues to be observed at Laurel Hill Cemetery every year, but on the Sunday before the national holiday, sponsored by the General Meade Society and American Legion Post 405 at the Union League. Below is information about this event.

 

Memorial Day Parade marches off to the grave of General Meade led by Captain Mike Peter (98th PV) at Laurel Hill

Annual Memorial Day Observed at Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Recreating the Original G.A.R. Decoration Day Service of 1868: The traditional Decoration Day service of the Grand Army Meade Post #1 will be recreated at Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Ave. Philadelphia on Sunday, May 28, 2017 at 12 noon. All are welcome to attend and participate in the ceremony.

Laurel Hill is the site of the first Memorial Day Observance in Philadelphia on this date in 1868.
Special veterans’ markers will be dedicated at the graves of veterans. Speakers, ceremonies and pageant will highlight this special ceremony. After, the entourage will gather at the grave of General Meade, hero of Gettysburg, to perform the traditional service to honor all veterans who fell defending the Nation. Wreath-laying, speeches, music and honor guards will enhance the ceremony.
Keynote Speaker: LTC Michael Rounds (USMA – Class of 1988)
Historical groups, veterans, and citizens are urged to participate. Wreaths, military contingents, color guards, music and period civilians are also encouraged.

Refreshments served after the ceremony. Tours of the historic cemetery available.

Andy Waskie, Master of Ceremonies addresses the crowd at the beginning of the annual Memorial Day Service at Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia

Co-sponsored by the General Meade Society of Philadelphia; Friends of Laurel Hill; American Legion Post #405
For information, call: 215-228-8200

 

Andy Waskie
WWII and Civil War Historian, professor, author, American Legion Member, & Starr Tour Director
¹ Source: Duke University’s Historic American Sheet Music, 1850-1920