November 12, 2012

red_cropped_w640On November 9, 2012, Bethany Village Life Enrichment encouraged residents to celebrate Veteran’s Day. The special programming included the Bethany band that filled the room with patriotic songs to support the occasion. Residents and staff even sang along! There was a special display in the auditorium featuring memorabilia from residents of all branches of military services. I had the pleasure of interviewing two Bethany Village resident veterans, Lee Smith and Gailard “Red” Ketcham.

Lee E. Smith, a Bethany Village resident, is one of many proud and knowledgeable veterans we have the pleasure of honoring this Veteran’s Day. Smith was born on January 1st, 1933 and in 1955 he finished ROTC. After ROTC, he joined the U.S Air Force.

“The realities of the time period were at the time being young and a physically capable man you either chose to join the military branch of your choice or be drafted anyways,” explains Smith. During his time of service, Smith spent half his days serving as a flying pilot and the other half working in engineering. Smith had his first assignment during the Korean War. He spent 26 years in the Air Force and seven of those years were spent in the Pacific. In 1981, Smith retired as a full Colonel. During his years in the service, he received many awards including 17 medals. Honors include The Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross and a Bronze Star. After serving in the military, Smith worked 15 years involving engineering assignments with System Research Laboratories (SRL). Today Lee Smith still is very active in the military community: he is a member of the Active Military Pilots Association at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and helps out at the Air Force museum as well. On top of being a positive advocate around the base, Smith also participates in the monthly gatherings here at Bethany Village. There are approximately 20 veterans that gather together and take turns sharing stories or information with each other.

Have you ever wondered where the photos on a map came from, or met someone who has taken them? Meet Gailard “Red” Ketcham (at left), born on April 1st 1926, who first enlisted into the U.S Air Corp in 1945. (The military branch was not known as the Air Force until 1947). Ketcham is a World War II veteran trained to be a Ball Turett Gunner on a B-17 four engine bomber. On April 1st, 1945, he arrived to England with the dedication to serve his country, however he never participated in a combat mission due to the end of the war on May 8th, 1945. Ketcham was selected to be an aerial photographer and flew many missions over England, France, Germany and then all the way to North Africa to supply photos for maps in the military. He was discharged in June 1946. Today he has composed an impressive collection of veteran memorabilia that he loves to share and introduce to new people. Ketcham spent his working career for General Motors Frigidaire Division in Dayton Ohio for 35 years. “Upon retirement in 1986, I joined the Frigidaire retirement club called ‘TOM CLUB – Tired Old Men.’ I became interested in the history of Frigidaire and was appointed as the historian for the club,” explains Ketcham of his time after retirement. He continues to work with Wright State University and Dunbar Library Special Collections in the Archives Department to help preserve the history of Frigidaire today.

Do you have a special Veteran’s Day story you would like to share?