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Feather River Bulletin
Quincy, California
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July 23, 2014     Feather River Bulletin
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Bulletin, I~ecora, Progress,ve, Reporter Wednesday, July 23, 2014 1B Retired Air Force Col. Vern Frye shares his stories of flying more than 100 fighter missions over Hanoi, North Vietnam and Southeast Asia before a distinguished career in Washington, D.C and Germany. Photo by Austin Hagwood Retired Navy quartermaster and World War II veteran John Hamby displays his certifiCates of appreciation from Congressman Doug LaMalfa and the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Eleven distinguished veterans were honored at the Mohawk Valley Independence Day parade. Photo by Austin Hagwood Robert Schoensee is one of 11 distinguished veterans honored at the Mohawk Valley Independence Day Parade. Photo by Austin Hagwood d veterans share Austin Hagwood Staff Writer Austin.G.Hagwood.l@nd.edu Robert Schoensee still remembers the moment his ship split in half off the coast of Normandy in 1944, plunging 270 men into the icy Atlantic surf. The 96-year-old retired Army major was one of 11 distinguished veterans recognized during the Mohawk Valley Independence Day Parade, where thousands of spectators lined Graeagle's streets to honor Plumas County residents who served from Omaha Beach to Vietnam, Pearl Harbor to the Battle of the Bulge. Yet beyond speeches and tributes, each veteran carries a human story of sacrifice and service. This year's Mohawk Valley From teacher to officer In 1942, Schoensee was teaching middle school in Graeagle when the attack on drowned." Pearl Harbor brought the Two days later, Schoensee U.S. to the brink of war. After took command of the volunteering for the Army, Cherbourg Port and his teaching experience made organized supplies for the him a perfect candidate for allied campaign. General Officer Candidate School, Patton commended him for and he worked with 250 "the way we treated his African-American trainees to entire army," and run the Port of New York. Schoensee's fluency in Foreign shores proved less German proved useful when friendly. After managing guarding 500 German ports in Glasgow and Belfast, prisoners. Schoensee was given two After touring Germany on days to prepare his company behaff of the Army and for the D-Day invasion, building peace between With Omaha Beach in Germans and the American sight, Schoensee's landing occupation, Schoensee craft struck a submerged returned to teaching. In ship. "All of us -- my officers addition to serving as and 1,270 men -- went into superintendent of Plumas the water," he says. "Full Unified School District, he packs, ammunition, full was a founder of Feather rifles. We all had to swim 150 River College and founding yards to shore. I went back director of Plumas Bank, and five times and rescued guys operated the Mohawk Boys that couldn't make it. But 30 Camp for 25 years. Independence Day Parade celebrates veterans on the Fourth of July. Photo by Carolyn Shipp "I don't remember ever being in a better parade, and I've been in Fourth of Julys all over the world, including Washington, D.C." Vern Frye Retired Air Force Colonel All in the family John Hamby, a 91-year-old Portola resident, and Jackson L. Harris Sr of Graeagle, share more than the status of Navy veterans and Pearl Harbor survivors. For both men, military service has always been a family commitment. "My dad was in the Army in World War I but joined the Navy so he could be with me," Hamby says. "I was in the South Pacific, but they sent him to the North Atlantic. My son and son-in-law were also in the Navy, and my grandson was in the Army and made a couple of tours in Iraq." The Independence Day parade featured the special sight of 94-year-old Harris Sr. side by side with his son, retired Navy commander and chaplain Jackson L. Harris II. The father and son have 45 years of combined service between them. "When I heard about the parade, it was about supporting my dad," Harris II says. "My last tour of duty was with the 3rd Marine Regiment out of Hawaii where my dad was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, and it was hit about five minutes earlier than Pearl Harbor. So to retire from where my dad was a Pearl Harbor survivor was pretty special. There were still pockmarks On the building." Following service in Hawaii, Mariana Island arid the Philippines, Harris Sr. was stationed in Guam and later Iwakuni, Japan, where he manned nuclear weapons on the USS San Joaquin County during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now 94, the recipient of two Air Medals and three combat stars still does 150 push-ups and 200 sit-ups every day and volunteers at the Graeagle Community Church. When asked about the influence of his father's career, Harris H replies, "Service always meant leading from the front in the sense that you lead by example, and that's really a Marine concept of leadership. It's an emptying out of yourseff for others." With a distinguished record of his own as a commander and reserve police officer, Harris II continues to serve as a chaplain and volunteer f'n-efighter. From huddle to cockpit As a football player at the University of Minnesota, retired Air Force Col. Vern Frye joined ROTC, a decision that would transplant him from the farfns of the Midwest to the airfields of Europe, where he trained with longtime friend Chuck Yeager as a fighter pilot. In the crucible of Vietnam, he flew more than 100 F-105 fighter missions over Hanoi, North Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The end of the Vietnam War brought Frye back to the U.S and he served as chief of the Air Force Liaison Office for the House of Representatives, flying with the Nixons in Air Force One and landing congressional teams in a turbulent Israel during the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Returning to Germany in 1973, Frye became base commander of the Sembach Air Base and later the Templehof Air Base in Berlin when the wall still divided the city. "I got to know some of the Russians that commanded bases over there, and there was no animosity between us," Frye says. "The Air Force teaches you to work as a team to get the job done. See Veterans, page 16B Father and son Jackson L. Harris Sr center, and Jackson L. Harris II, right, hold the state Assembly resolution honoring them and other distinguished veterans with organizer Dave Karau at the Mohawk Valley Independence Day Parade on July 4. The former Navy lieutenant and commander have 45 years of combined service. Photo submitted now featuring exquisite fine dining! Dinner Served Tues.-Sat. Starting at 4 p.m. Chef Chuck Romo r of Pioneer Saloon Home of the Brubeck Bar (from the historic Amedee Hotel) and featuring Custom Classic Cocktails 'j