Bedford town council honors World War II veterans
During a Nov. 13, Bedford Town Council ceremony honoring veterans for their, Bernie Ruchin, discusses his experiences during World War II and Korea. Listening are fellow veterans, from left, John Caulfield, Arthur Zetes, Vincent Kordack and Earl Isham, along council Chairman Chris Bandazian. (SUSAN CLARK PHOTO)
"When I left the craft I had to wade in water up to my waist for about 25 yards. It was the last time I saw any of the corpsmen from B-6 that night. I noticed several tanks under water. After I got to the beach and the shelling stopped I started to dig in. I gave up for there were only 10 yards of sand for us to dig in and there was a lot of gravel in the sand. After I gave up digging, I found Army packs from two dead soldiers and made a barricade around me. Every time I started to take a few steps I would trip over a body for they were scattered all around us."
Kordack, 90, was one of five World War II veterans honored by the Town Council on Nov. 13 for service to their country.
Caulfield said he was among the many men at that time who upon graduating from high school took the first opportunity to enlist. He joined the Army with six of his classmates in June, 1946.
He was with the 71st signal service battalion involved with occupation duty in Japan. He helped bring communications back to the country. They set up poles and steel towers and ran cables.
What he remembers most is the devastation of the war-torn country, people starving and some living in caves.
"Fathers were sneaking under fences to steal food from our metal garbage cans to feed their families. That's how bad things were over there," he said about being on kitchen patrol duty in Okinawa.
"I gave them some yen and when they came back from break, they formed a line and one by one they shook my hand and thanked me," he said. "Their production increased and it lightened their mood."
Isham, 88, was in high school when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He had to wait until graduation to enlist, per his mother's request. He joined the Navy in June 1943, and served in the Pacific for about 14 months, and saw battle on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
"I am very proud to have been able to serve my country. It is indeed a privilege to be honored by a community that I have adopted as my home for the last 67 years," Isham said.
'The 7th Army went from Marseille up to Dijon and the Vosges Mountains in the winter, which no one did, not even Hannibal and his elephants," he said.
The war in the Pacific was a prairie dog war, every foot, every yard was brutal and barbaric," Ruchin said. "Every Marine is a rifle man — kill the enemy and take no prisoners, and that's what we did."
After the war, he was assigned to the War Crimes Tribunal to determine the atrocities of the war.
When he returned home, he joined the New York state police, but because he had joined the Marine Corps Reserve he was called to service in Korea. His police commander tried to get him a deferment, but Ruchin was given an eight-day notice to report for duty. He served 12 years in the Marines and the Marine Corps Reserve.
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