Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Ruth Pagán
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
TRINIDAD — Local World War II veterans were honored Oct. 20 at the Mitchell Art Center in Trinidad during a one-day exhibit of artifacts from that war.
The event honored local living veterans and was followed by a reception in honor of the men and women who served in World War II.
“These warriors not only used their strength to defeat their enemies, but were also generous and compassionate custodians of liberty (who) helped rebuild countries, write constitutions and pave the way toward democracy,” said Brig. Gen. Ryan F. Gonsalves, deputy commanding general for maneuver, 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson, and guest speaker at the event. “They did not fight to conquer the world, but to liberate it.”
All of the items in the exhibit came from a private owner and had never been displayed to the public before.
“When I saw the exhibit, I was speechless,” said Jason Starkovich, collector and exhibit owner. “I’ve known some of the veterans growing up, so it’s nice to see them being honored in this way.”
The honorees said they were impressed with the wide variety of memorabilia in the exhibit.
“It’s great to see all of this stuff,” said Lowell Thompson, one of the honorees. “They have pictures of me that I had forgotten about.”
The Trinidad community, which is partnered with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, through the Fort Carson community relations program, sent out an invitation to the Soldiers of 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., to attend the event.
“It was an absolute honor to meet the World War II veterans, to be able to sit down and talk with them,” said Maj. Jerome Barbour, operations officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg. “We are happy that Trinidad gave us the opportunity to do that.”
Soldiers who attended the event said they learned a lot from the older generation of veterans.
“I volunteered for this because I wanted to see the lineage and meet the men who paved the way for me,” said Sgt. Meral Smith, Troop D, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., 2nd BCT, 4th Inf. Div. “The stories that they shared with us gave me a sense of pride and respect.”
The event also gave the Soldiers an opportunity to ask the veterans questions about their experiences and learn about what war was like when they were in the foxholes.
“It was very interesting because my grandfather was there, but he passed when I was 15, so I never really got to ask him questions. Today, I got to ask those questions (of) guys (who) maybe went through the same things he did,” said Sgt. Matthew Callihan, Troop A, 1st Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg. “Being able to hear the things they went through seems a lot crazier than the things we go through; these guys are heroes.”
Soldiers said they were impressed with the respect the World War II vets shared for each other and were inspired by their accomplishments.
“It was good to come out here and hear the stories and witness what they went through; it makes me want to push harder in what I want to do in the military,” Smith said.