King City honors veterans on their day

Marine Corps veteran Golda Fabian
Marine Corps veteran Golda Fabian kept military personnel’s mail flowing as they transitioned to and from the Pacific theater. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

King City is home to a high concentration of veterans, and for many years there has been a Veterans Day celebration in the King City Civic Association Clubhouse to honor not just local veterans but all those who served.

Al McFarling was part of the occupation force in Japan after the end of World War II.
Al McFarling was part of the occupation force in Japan after the end of World War II. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

This year’s event featured two speakers, Marine Corps veterans Al McFarling and Golda Fabian, and also included information on the nationwide Honor Flight Network program and the singing of the well-known songs of each branch of the Armed Forces.

Paul Hailey was the master of ceremonies for the event, which started with “Reveille” played on the trumpet by Dave Nelson, who also played “Taps” at the conclusion. Following the invocation by Pastor Dee Bulante, the pledge of allegiance was recited.

Jerry Larsen, accompanied on the piano by Muriel Dresser, led the audience in singing the military branch songs that are so familiar to everyone: “Over hill, over dale, As we hit the dusty trail…” (U.S. Army); “From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli…” (U.S. Marine Corps); “Anchors aweigh, my boys, anchors aweigh…”(U.S. Navy); “We’re always ready for the call…” (U.S. Coast Guard); and “Off we go, into the wild blue yonder…” (U.S. Air Force). Veterans in the audience were asked to stand when their branch song was sung.

Golda Fabian needed parental permission to join the Marines in March 1944, and despite her dad refusing to sign, she got in and celebrated her 21st birthday in boot camp. She was trained at the Marines’ motion picture school to run movie theater equipment but ended up working at the post office in Miramar, Calif., where all the military personnel passed through on their way to and from the Pacific front.

Her job was redirecting mail, and she said, “Mail was the lifeblood of the service. That’s what I did, and everyone benefited immensely from getting their mail. I am proud to be a woman Marine.”

Al McFarling told the audience, “The heroes are the ones that didn’t come home, the rest of us are just veterans.”

McFarling also joined the Marine Corps and after boot camp, he was sent to Hawaii as the military prepared for the invasion of Japan; his ship was waiting at Saipan when the war ended.

“We were part of the occupational forces and the first Americans to set foot on Japan,” said McFarling, who joined the Marine Corps Reserves after his active service. “They taught me a lot. I am very proud to be a Marine.”

Bill Gerkin, who served in the National Guard,  talks about raising funds for the Honor Flight Network.
Bill Gerkin, who served in the National Guard, talks about raising funds for the Honor Flight Network. Barbara Sherman/Tigard Life

Bill Gerkin, who served in the National Guard for 28 years, joined the King City Lions Club 24 years ago. One of the programs it supports is the Honor Flight Network, which sends veterans on four-day, all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., to see monuments and other points of interest, with World War II veterans getting priority.

The Lions club started collecting redeemable cans and bottles when they were only worth 5 cents each, sending all the funds generated to the Honor Flight Network. “We have now raised more than $20,000 and sent more than 20 veterans to Washington, D.C.,” Gerkin said.

The Lions have several collection barrels around town, and they pick up bags of cans and bottles in King City and Summerfield on the first Monday of each month if people call ahead. (Gerkin said that after the event, a woman walked up to him and handed him a check for $100 for the Honor Flight Network program.)

Hailey concluded the program by naming King City veterans who have passed away and saying, “Thank you, veterans, we honor you.”

From the audience, Don Whetsell, who served in the Air Force during the Korean War, said, “Remember the MIAs and POWs.”

Everyone enjoyed refreshments following the program.