'Home for Christmas': Marco Island salutes veterans with holiday program

Harry Donovan points to himself behind Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the famous 1944 photograph. Marco's Christmas Holiday Veterans' Salute took place Tuesday evening in Rose Hall at the Marco Island Historical Museum. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Photo by LANCE SHEARER // Buy this photo

Harry Donovan points to himself behind Gen. Douglas MacArthur in the famous 1944 photograph. Marco's Christmas Holiday Veterans' Salute took place Tuesday evening in Rose Hall at the Marco Island Historical Museum. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent

Marco Island gave an early Christmas present to the island's military men and women on Tuesday. The Christmas Holiday Veterans' Salute, a Christmas Island Style event, filled the Rose History Auditorium Tuesday evening for a blend of patriotic spirit and Christmas spirit.

Music was provided by the New Life Community Church of God praise band and choir, a military air by the Lely High School JROTC Color Guard, and an artistic flair by Malenda Trick, who had three of her veteran portraits on display.

Technically, explained Jim Lang, Commander of VFW Post #6370, the evening was also a VFW monthly meeting, as required by the organization's bylaws, although it may have broken a record for the shortest VFW meeting on record.

"Our members would rather come here," explained Lang, largely because "we don't serve wine," which was offered after the evening's program. "Post 6370 is now open for business," he announced. "Do I hear a motion to adjourn?"

Motion and second were quickly provided by Herb Savage and Owen Carr, both vets and the subjects of Trick's brush, and with business concluded, the colors trooped, the invocation and Pledge of Allegiance intoned, the program proceeded.

"Every evening we lay down in a bed that has a blanket of freedom," said Christmas Island Style chairman Steve Stefanides. The threads of that blanket, he said, are woven from the valor and sacrifice of military veterans.

"There are no words to thank our veterans, no way those of us, including myself, who never served, can understand the sacrifice" they provided, said Keith Dameron.

For the evening's guest speaker, the crowd heard from one of those veterans, who had a unique story to tell from his combat service in the South Pacific during World War II. Harry Donovan, who splits his year between Ohio and Marco Island, is visible in one of the iconic photographs of that war, splashing ashore at Leyte next to General Douglas MacArthur.

It was a major event in the war when MacArthur made good on his famous promise, "I shall return," issued when he escaped from the Philippines as Japanese forces overran the islands nearly three years earlier.

Donovan, just 17 years old at the time, was the coxswain of a Navy Higgins boat, or landing craft, and didn't even know he was in the presence of legend. It wasn't until a few years ago, he told the audience, that he realized he appeared in the photo that has been reproduced all over the world.

Donovan spoke of bloodier and less ceremonial landings, including the time when he beached his boat and disembarked 32 GIs, only to see them almost instantly cut down to the last man.

"In moments, they were wiped away," he told, his voice choking with emotion. He went back for another contingent, putting his own life in great jeopardy, only to see them decimated as well.

"I could have been court-martialled," he said. "I went back to the ship and told the captain, 'we need more air bombardment. We're not doing it right,'" and refused to deliver any more troops for slaughter. "He threw me in the brig," said Donovan, but he was summoned the next morning and told, "You could have been right. Get back to work."

If the talk was military, the music was Christmas. Rev. Greg Barrett led the New Life choir in a series of traditional Christmas songs – of the Jesus, not the Santa Claus, variety. Accompanied by drums, guitar, and bass, they sang songs such as "Go Tell It on the Mountain."

Barrett's wife Tica Barrett, with her husband on keyboard, soloed on "I'll Be Home for Christmas," which kind of brought the program full circle, as Bing Crosby's 1943 hit undoubtedly caused a lump in the throat of many soldiers in the farflung theaters of war all those decades ago.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 12

2themoon writes:

God bless these guys!,,, Go bless America..(hey klaus dumpkoff noticed how I capitilized AMERICA!

RayPray writes:

Doesn't Xmas purportedly celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace?

So why every year do we have to drag out the same doddering pack of self-advertised heroes and subject these kids to the same stale tales of ancient dering-dodo?

Where in the Bible does Jesus interrupt his mission of peace to strut over to honor the 3rd Roman Legion of Palestine?

Don't these professional blowhards get enough hearse-kissing at their other boozy get-togethers without having to perpetrate this annual ritual of child abuse?

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to RayPray:

Doesn't Xmas purportedly celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace?

So why every year do we have to drag out the same doddering pack of self-advertised heroes and subject these kids to the same stale tales of ancient dering-dodo?

Where in the Bible does Jesus interrupt his mission of peace to strut over to honor the 3rd Roman Legion of Palestine?

Don't these professional blowhards get enough hearse-kissing at their other boozy get-togethers without having to perpetrate this annual ritual of child abuse?

I can't wait to hear the CZAR KLAUS response to this sick blog.

26yearsonmarco writes:

This is a draft of the new Army Manual instructing our Service Men & Women to act.

I'm sure our Veterans, including myself, would think twice before committing to this nonsense:

New Army Manual Orders Soldiers Not To Criticize Taliban, pedophilia, "anything related to Islam" or "advocate for women's rights"
The new U.S. military handbook for troops deployed to the Middle East orders soldiers not to make derogatory comments about the Taliban or criticize pedophilia, among other Islamic things.
Mass beheadings, gendercide, gassing of girls' schools, mass slaughter of non-believers and less than devout Muslims, attacks on US soldiers, acid attacks on women, brutal burka enforcement ..... must not be criticzed. So speaketh the caliph in the White House. He is stalking these anti-humans for peace, after all.
Bloody he*l, bring our boys home. Now.
How can any America hold our heads high under this monster?
New Army Manual Orders Soldiers Not To Criticize Taliban
December 11, 2012 | Judicial Watch
Here is a strong indicator that the Obama Administration’s crusade to appease Islam has gone too far; a new U.S. military handbook for troops deployed to the Middle East orders soldiers not to make derogatory comments about the Taliban or criticize pedophilia, among other outrageous things.
It gets better; the new manual, which is around 75 pages, suggests that Western ignorance of Afghan culture— not Taliban infiltration—is responsible for the increase in deadly attacks by Afghan soldiers against the coalition forces.
The soon-to-be-released Army handbook is still being drafted, but a mainstream newspaper got a sneak preview and published an article that should infuriate the American taxpayers funding the never-ending war on terror. The manual is being created because someone with authority bought the theory that cultural insensitivity is driving insider attacks on U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
More than three dozen insider attacks have killed 63 members of the U.S.-led coalition this year, according to the article, and some blame “American cultural ignorance.” The bottom line is that troops may experience social-cultural shock and/or discomfort when interacting with Afghan security forces, the new military handbook says. “Better situational awareness/understanding of Afghan culture will help better prepare [troops] to more effectively partner and to avoid cultural conflict that can lead toward green-on-blue violence.”

26yearsonmarco writes:

New Army Manual Continued:

The draft leaked to the newspaper offers a list of “taboo conversation topics” that soldiers should avoid, including “making derogatory comments about the Taliban,” “advocating women’s rights,” “any criticism of pedophilia,” “directing any criticism towards Afghans,” “mentioning homosexuality and homosexual conduct” or “anything related to Islam.”
At least one high-ranking military official had the backbone to publicly criticize the new manual, albeit through a spokesperson. U.S. Marine General John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, doesn’t endorse it and rejected a proposed forward drafted by Army officials in his name. “He does not approve of its contents,” according to a military spokesman quoted in the story.
Earlier this year the Obama Administration changed the way federal agents are trained to combat terrorism and violent extremism by eliminating all materials that shed a negative light on Muslims. Under White House orders, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) destroyed instructional material that characterizes Muslims as prone to violence or terrorism in a government-wide call to end Islamophobia.
Under Obama practically every major federal agency has been ordered to participate in Muslim outreach initiatives, including the Justice Department with a special program to protect Islamic civil rights, Homeland Security meetings with extremist Muslim organizations and the nation’s space agency (NASA) with an unprecedented mission to focus on Muslim diplomacy.
Additionally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed a special order to allow the reentry of two radical Islamic academics whose terrorist ties long banned them from the U.S. and the administration sent an America-bashing mosque leader (Feisal Abdul Rauf) who blames U.S. foreign policy for the 9/11 attacks on a Middle Eastern outreach mission. The Obama Administration even ordered a government-funded meal program for home-bound seniors to offer halal cuisine prepared according to Islamic law.

1Paradiselost writes:

26......

Still can't get over that shellacking the GOP took on 11/6, huh,

Your a STILL broken record, and need to get a life!

2themoon writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

26......

Still can't get over that shellacking the GOP took on 11/6, huh,

Your a STILL broken record, and need to get a life!

Typical liberal bashing the veterans whenever you can. You are a first class ahole and pig.

1Paradiselost writes:

Your job as a solider was to take orders... NOT question your commanding officer Jerk! You need to get a life too!

2themoon writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Your job as a solider was to take orders... NOT question your commanding officer Jerk! You need to get a life too!

???? nutjob, probably Klaus Stuederbakers wife.

26yearsonmarco writes:

in response to 1Paradiselost:

Your job as a solider was to take orders... NOT question your commanding officer Jerk! You need to get a life too!

I have yet to meet one Veteran, or any Active Duty Personal, that have any respect for their current Commander-in-chief.

1Paradiselost writes:

in response to 26yearsonmarco:

I have yet to meet one Veteran, or any Active Duty Personal, that have any respect for their current Commander-in-chief.

You have met one now!

Your still crying about the election.

I feel sorry for you and your "Veteran" Friends. American is changing. If for better or worst, we are still all Americans.

lauralbi1 writes:

26: By the way, if you still think Marco Island is a retirement community, go to Veteran's Park today, Saturday, 15 December, to look at our community enjoying itself !!!
Ed issler

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features