WWII vets honored at luncheon

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

The contributions of the generation that won World War II were honored and remembered at a luncheon in Rapid City Tuesday.

About 250 people attended the 5th annual World War II Veterans Luncheon, which is hosted at The Retired Enlisted Association (T.R.E.A.) building. Eighty-four WWII veterans were registered to attend, and family members of deceased veterans were also welcomed.

The veterans, all of whom are in their 90s, were greeted by the Patriot and American Legion riders, who provided flags and escorted the veterans inside.

The luncheon was an opportunity for the “Greatest Generation” to continue sharing their memories and stories.

“They did such a phenomenal job in World War II,” said Herbert B. Cleveland, a U.S. Army chaplain who participated in the post-war occupation of Europe and also served in the Korean War. “They turned the tide of dictatorship … and changed the world forever.”

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Organizers hold this event to make sure the veterans’ stories are shared with younger generations. They hope the stories live on long after the veterans have passed.

“Like Tom Brokaw said, it’s the ‘Greatest Generation,’” said Bill Casper, the host of the luncheon. “You listen to some of the stories some of the guys that were in combat [tell], and they’re getting older. They’re in their 90s. I’ve got two 98-year-olds that are coming, and most are 94, 95, 96.”

The lunch was free for the veterans and their families, and consisted of hamburgers, baked beans, potato salad and potato chips.

Each veteran and family member representing a deceased veteran received a commemorative medal. The Potter Family provided U.S.O.-style entertainment during the luncheon.

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