A Johnstown American Legion Post 254 open house offered one decorated World War II veteran the chance to reminisce about his Gahanna connections.

A Johnstown American Legion Post 254 open house offered one decorated World War II veteran the chance to reminisce about his Gahanna connections.

Don Jakeway, who was a paratrooper and part of the D-Day assault on Normandy, visited with Esther Sindel, following a flag disposal ceremony at the Post, 180 W. Maple St. in Johnstown, on Aug. 20.

Sindel said she was floored when Jakeway said he would turn 94 in January.

She said she graduated from Gahanna Lincoln High School in 1945.

Jakeway said he had many relatives who lived in Gahanna, including an aunt who has the last name Baughman.

"Also, Willard Jakeway was an all-state athlete," he said. "His dad Leo was my first cousin."

Don Jakeway worked on Hamilton Road for EPCO Manufacturing as director of operations for 18 years from 1963 to 1981.

"I sold water coolers and dehumidifiers all over the world," he said.

Jakeway attended the open house with memorabilia from his military career.

He graduated from Johnstown-Monroe High School in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Army that same year.

Jakeway became a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division.

He survived an enemy sniper's rifle fire and an accident in which all of the other occupants inside an ambulance were killed.

Jakeway has had 21 medals bestowed upon him for his service including four Bronze Stars, a Combat Infantryman Badge, four campaign medals, a Presidential Unit Citation, a Purple Heart with oak-leaf cluster and medals from France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Post Cmdr. Preston Hale said the open house was to honor veterans who served in the armed forces from World War ll to the present day.

The event was sponsored by Johnstown Post 254 and was hosted by the Military Order of the Purple Heart.

Many of the displays made available showed the actual pictures, medals and memorabilia of the times.

Westerville's Bob Croce Jr., of Overlord Living History, said he usually displays memorabilia 10 to 15 times annually.

His partner John Corna was dressed in a World War II 2nd Ranger uniform.

"It's a uniform they would have worn on D-Day," he said. "I'm a military enthusiast and collector."

Janet Piper, president of the American Legion Post 254 Auxiliary, presented flags for inspection during a flag disposal ceremony.

Hale said the flag disposal ceremony retires tattered and worn American flags.

"We do this once a quarter," Piper said. "The Boy Scouts may do one as part of their program. We also started a youth program last year. They learn about respect for the flag."

"This event was followed by a three-round volley by the Rifle Squad and ended with the playing of taps," he said.

Hale said the event brought about 130 visitors to the post, where they met authors, Medal of Honor recipients, Purple Heart recipients and veterans from World War ll, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm. "Museum quality artifacts were also on display both inside and outside of the Post," he said.

Brandi Maxie, of Sunbury's Majestic Run Therapy Dogs, visited with veterans along with three Rhodesian Ridgebacks named Kaya, Kami and Amigo.

"The majority of our work is hospice," she said. "They have worked with special needs children and about 75 hospice patients. They've also been used for stress relief during finals week at OSU."

"We had several visitors that made the whole day's event meaningful," Hale said. "After all, we as veterans are proud of our country and enjoy sharing our stories with those who are interested. We at Post 254 always welcome the public to our events, and hopefully they enjoy our services to them."

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla