2009-05-30 / Top News

American Legion Service Remembers Island Soldiers

Flag Dedicated to St. Onge, Chapman, Dankowski
By Jane Alexander

Above: Post Commander Paul Wandrie (center) , pictured with Roy Besssell Jr. (at right) honored the memory of three Mackinac Island soldiers during a Memorial Day service Monday, May 25. Above: Post Commander Paul Wandrie (center) , pictured with Roy Besssell Jr. (at right) honored the memory of three Mackinac Island soldiers during a Memorial Day service Monday, May 25. Honoring Mackinac Island soldiers who did not come home from war was the focus of a Memorial Day service Monday, May 25, at the Veterans Memorial in the city park, when members of American Legion Post 299 met at 11:30 a.m. for a brief service.

Guest speaker William Porter, a World War II U.S. Army veteran, talked of soldiers taking up the cause of battle and noted those who took on the cause as their own and were killed in the service to their country.

"Their cause was our freedom and our liberty," he said.

Post Commander Paul Wandrie played a song for the families on Mackinac Island who lost loved ones in battle, and presented a flag in memory of three fallen Mackinac Island soldiers.

"Today we honor three Mackinac Island soldiers who did not come home," Mr. Wandrie said, remembering Private John St. Onge, Sergeant Joseph Chapman, and Specialist James Dankowski.

Paul Wandrie (left) and Roy Bessell Jr. present the new flag for the Chapman, St. Onge, Dankowski American Legion Post on Mackinac Island. (Photograph by Robert Benjamin) Paul Wandrie (left) and Roy Bessell Jr. present the new flag for the Chapman, St. Onge, Dankowski American Legion Post on Mackinac Island. (Photograph by Robert Benjamin) He speculated about the lives they might have had if they had returned home, and said there is no award or medal that can match their sacrifice.

He also pointed out flower displays dedicated by family members to remember their loved ones.

City council member Armand "Smi" Horn led the service and introduced Mary McGuire Slevin, who sang the national anthem.

Former Navy Lieutenant Commander Father Jim Williams read the opening prayer, and Mayor Margaret Doud spoke to the assembly, reading a poem to honor veterans and soldiers still fighting today. The Reverend Vincent Carroll, retired U.S. Navy Captain, read the closing prayer, and historic interpreters from Fort Mackinac played "Taps" for the service.

Among those gathered for the service were Bernard Robach and Christina Luis of St. Ignace. Mr. Robach's grandfather, Pat Andress, is an Island veteran.

At right: Armand "Smi" Horn leads the Memorial Day service at the Veterans Memorial in the city park. At right: Armand "Smi" Horn leads the Memorial Day service at the Veterans Memorial in the city park. "It was a very nice service," Mr. Robach said. "We try to get over here for it most years."

Mackinac Island school teacher Lance Greenlee said he was impressed.

"I enjoyed the service," Mr. Greenlee said. "I was especially struck by the remark that many young people today don't know what the Berlin Airlift was because it was before their time."

The service was closed with the raising of the American flag to full staff.

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