Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day. All of these holidays are dedicated to paying tribute to the military men and women who have fought or continue to fight for our country. Three days out of the year we take the time to honor our service men and women.
What I’ve come to learn from working in the senior living industry is that every day should be treated as a day to honor our veterans. Nearly every male resident I have ever met served at some point in his life.
Dick Gardell, who lives at The Buckingham in Houston, reflects on his time in the service with a large group of men and women that make up the Buckingham Veterans Club. Gardell and others formed the group, made up of 40 members, which gathers regularly to share stories and enjoy time together.
Gardell was part of the ROTC program at Iowa State University, serving as cadet colonel in his senior year. He graduated in December of 1954 and went into the service January 1955. He received his commission when he graduated and went into the Army as a Second Lieutenant.
He trained at Fort Monmouth in New Jersey for four months with the signal corps. He was then shipped to Germany where he was assigned to the 142nd armored signal company, a part of the second armored division. Gardell was first sent to Bad Kreuznach, the headquarters for the second armored division in Germany, where he was put in charge of the radio platoon. Six months later, he was assigned as platoon leader of the operations section, where he coordinated communications for their many maneuvers.
Camaraderie is very important to Gardell, who still keeps in touch with some of the other lieutenants from his time in Germany. Some of his fondest memories from his two years in the service came about from the time he spent bonding with the other men.
For instance, many of Gardell’s fellow officers had Lugers, which are German pistols that many American GIs picked up off of German officers in WWI and WWII. One day, while they were in the forest setting up a communications headquarters, the men put a cigarette in a tree and took turns using the Lugers to shoot at it. Gardell missed the cigarette, but hit the tree, and it sparked his interest in Lugers. Over the years he has collected various types, and ended up with seven in his collection.
Gardell came home in January of 1957 and got married February 9, 1957. When he returned home he went to work for Shell Oil Company as a geologist. He stayed in the reserves for five or six years as part of his commitment, but he never got called back in.
The Buckingham Veterans Club was formed in 2012. They selected a few men who had experience leading and another who had a good war record and had experience doing lectures as the leaders of the group. It’s been very successful and is now up to 40 members, including two ladies. All of the members have served in the military or have been in military or government agencies, such as the CIA.
The group has a luncheon every quarter with some kind of a program, usually a guest speaker. To celebrate Memorial Day, the group hosted a flag raising and a service to honor those who have served. They also have an annual Veterans Day program.
I know that the freedoms I take for granted everyday can be attributed to the sacrifices many of these residents made. So on that note, I’d like to dedicate this post to Dick Gardell, because he doesn’t just deserve recognition three days a year – he deserves it 365.