Veterans relive memories of wars Veterans Day event draws 70 to City Dock

November 12, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Jean W. Shofe spent much of Veterans Day at attention, sorting through memories, pushing against surfacing emotions.

He is 80. A Pearl Harbor survivor. A Purple Heart recipient with broken ear drums and shrapnel scars on his left leg. A former crew member of the USS Dehaven, a destroyer hit by three 300-pound Japanese bombs off Guadalcanal in 1943.

Shofe is one of 121 sailors who survived the attack. But what he remembered yesterday standing with about 70 other war veterans at Annapolis Memorial Circle, as a cold easterly wind stretched flags taut, were 209 crew members who didn't.

"There's not as much patriotism now, not like when I was growing up," said Shofe, of Arnold. "There's none of the enthusiasm we had. This is the greatest country in the world, and we take it for granted."

In a short, stirring tribute, Annapolis-area veterans celebrated the holiday with a high school marching band, a 21-gun salute, taps, eulogy and prayer. A morning temperature that dipped into the low 30s didn't prevent about 100 people from gathering at the circle near City Dock, a white-capped Severn River and Chesapeake Bay as backdrop.

Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, a Navy veteran of World War II, presided over the brief ceremony.

"This gives me the opportunity to say something I've never said before," said the mayor, who served in the Pacific. "We live in the greatest country in the world, and nobody should ever forget that."

"Amen!" someone shouted.

Hopkins said he had flipped through pages of his Annapolis Elementary School yearbook yesterday morning. "There are playmates that I can't see anymore," he said. "They went to World War II and never came back."

So did a shipmate. Hopkins recalled walking in San Diego on leave when a friend introduced him to his new wife. Days later, their ship left for the South Pacific. "That guy never came back," Hopkins said.

"I'm not telling you a sob story, or a hero's story, but everyone's story," he continued. "This is one of my last chances to say please, please don't forget."

Alexander Booze, 72, served in the Army Air Forces from 1942 to 1945. He was a combat engineer, building airstrips in the Pacific. Yesterday, he recalled visiting Hiroshima three weeks after U.S. planes dropped the first atomic bomb on the city in 1945.

"There was nothing left but a post office made out of marble and a bridge," said Booze, an Annapolis resident since before the first atomic explosion. "I go back to those days when I was still in the service. I have some good memories. And some bad ones, too."

Jim Davis served two tours in Vietnam. In 1968, he arrived as a lieutenant in the 199th Army Light Infantry Brigade, serving as platoon and company commander before rotating home. He returned in 1971 as a captain advising the Vietnamese Airborne Division. He talked yesterday about places with names exotic and horrible. Pineapple Region. Parrot's Beak. War Zone C. War Zone D.

More than that, he recalled the people who served next to him.

"I remember a lot of young faces," said Davis, 55, of Edgewater. "A lot of friends, people I've served with, people that I see. For me, it's both a proud and sad day."

Pub Date: 11/12/96

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