It was the 11th minute, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918 when World War I ended. This is why we remember our veterans each time we celebrate Veterans Day on November 11.
Mt. Lebanon is the home of the Veterans Breakfast Club. (You can read all about them in the November issue of Mt. Lebanon Magazine). Its purpose is to create communities of listening around veterans to ensure that this living history will never be forgotten. Founded by Todd DePastino of Mt. Lebanon, the regular breakfast events ensure that people will be educated, healed and inspired. On this coming Veterans Day we remember all of our veterans of the past and especially those surviving members who still have a story to tell.
As a writer for a major publication called the Military Trader and an avid collector of military memorabilia, I’ve met many veterans who shared their amazing stories with me. In 2015, I met a noted WWII veteran at the Louisville Show of Shows. Hershel “Woody” Williams shared with me the story of his heroic action on Iwo Jima for which he received the Medal of Honor.
In 2019, I was fortunate to meet another memorable WWII veteran and hear his remarkable story. Charles F. McGee was one of the famous Tuskegee Airmen. In all, McGee flew over 400 combat missions in WWII. He might be best remembered for his appearance at the 2020 State of the Union Address just after being promoted to Brigadier General.
In 2019, my wife Judie and I attended a major military show at the MAPS (Military Air Preservation Society) Show in Canton, Ohio. For residents of Mt. Lebanon, especially those with children, you might be interested in MAPS, as it features a Military Hall of Fame and an amazing display of military aircraft along the runways of the Akron-Canton Airport. It is a delightful day trip for anyone looking for something different.
On that day, as I started my search for collectable militaria, I noticed Judie having an animated conversation with an older WWII veteran in uniform. He was there to share his story, along with the selling a book he authored.
What fascinated Judie was that the man, Sgt. Robert “Bud” Sabetay, was 94 and still wearing his Ike jacket, while standing tall and proud. She was marveling at his complexion and youthful appearance and was asking for his secret. Bud explained that he had a regular regimen of doing 100 pushups to start his day.
He also told Judie how he survived the Battle of the Bulge under General George S. Patton as part of the 90th Division. Using a camera he found in a liberated German home, he was able to have a photographic record of the events that he later used for his book, “Memoirs of an American Jewish Soldier.”
At the most recent MAPS event this April, Judie reconnected with Bud, who is now 97 years old. As I was writing this story, I got an update on Bud and learned that he returned to France on June 3, 2022, for the 78th anniversary of the storming of the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Another story to remember.
Even though some of them are no longer with us, their stories live on. Williams recently passed away in June 2022 as the last surviving Medal of Honor winner of WWII. McGee left us at the age of 102 on January 16, 2022. He was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. This is why the mission of the Veteran Breakfast Club is so important. It allows veterans to tell their stories and is open to anyone both veteran and non-veteran to attend.
On this Veterans Day, feel free to ask a veteran to tell his or her story and be part of history.