Johnstown's American Legion Post 254 celebrated veterans who served in the armed forces from World War ll to the present day during an open house Aug. 20.

Johnstown's American Legion Post 254 celebrated veterans who served in the armed forces from World War ll to the present day during an open house Aug. 20.

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

Post 254 Commander Preston Hale said the open house attracted about 130 visitors.

"Many of the displays made available showed the actual pictures, medals and memorabilia of the times," he said. "We had authors, Medal of Honor recipients, Purple Heart recipients and veterans from World War ll, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm to show their displays."

Johnstown resident Don Jakeway, who was a paratrooper and part of the Allied Forces' assault on Normandy, displayed his 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 of the 82nd Airborne Division.

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

Jakeway earned 21 medals 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 the highest medals of honor from France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

He's the author of Paratroopers Do or Die!

Jakeway said he had 10 speaking engagements last year. A highlight from this year was serving as grand marshal of the Red, White and Boom parade in Columbus.

The Newark library shared the military history of veterans of Licking County, and the Licking County Genealogical Society also displayed pictures of local women who have served in the military.

Hale said a flag disposal ceremony was held to retire tattered and worn American flags.

"The three-round volley that's part of our flag disposal ceremony is to show respect to the retiring of the flag, similar to that of a soldier during a funeral," Hale said. "It is followed by taps as signifying the 'final rest.'"

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

"We do this once a quarter for flags that are worn and tattered," she 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."

Westerville's Bob Croce Jr., of Overlord Living History, displayed museum-quality memorabilia from WWI to the present. 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."

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."

Hale said the visitors made the whole day's event meaningful.

"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."

mkhulman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla