WELLSBORO - The Laurels Personal Care Home celebrated Veterans Day by recognizing two residents who served in the military during World War II: Richard Parry and Beulah Palmer.
Richard "Dick" Parry served in the World War II after being drafted in March 1941. He was living in Teaneck, N.J., at the time, working for New York Life Insurance Co. Parry went into the anti-aircraft branch, completing his training maneuvers in North Carolina. There, he trained extensively in identifying enemy aircrafts and using the 90mm anti-aircraft guns required to shoot down planes.
War was declared on Dec. 8 while Parry was stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia.
"We picked up and took up positions in Baltimore at the Glenn L. Martin plant," Parry said. "A month later, we embarked from Brooklyn, New York, to Australia and from there to New Caledonia Island."
During the war, Parry served as a sergeant in the Philippines, Guadalcanal, New Georgia (the largest island in the Solomon Islands), and Bougainville Island near Papua New Guinea.
"I participated in the Jan. 9 invasion of the Philippines in 1945," Parry said. "We guarded the airfields, shooting down enemy aircraft. We were stationed in the jungle, so it was very hot and very wet. And the mosquitoes! I got malaria, pretty much all of us did - we couldn't help it. They wouldn't even let the nurses off the plane when they came into our place. I spent four to five months in the Philippines, but I was overseas for 3 1/2 years. I kept in touch with my girl, of course," he said with a smile.
Parry returned home to New Jersey in 1945, married, had a family, and continued working for New York Life for 43 years.
Palmer graduated from Rochester General nursing school during World War II, serving as a second lieutenant nurse. She was stationed briefly in Atlantic City, N.J., which Palmer described as "a nice, fun town," before being deployed to Europe.
"I was inspired to become a nurse by my aunt - that was always what I wanted to do, and when wartime came, everyone wanted to give their best," she said.
Palmer primarily worked in a long-term care hospital during the war, focusing on soldiers who had been previously treated and were in need of long-term recovery from injuries received in the line of duty.
"I met so many interesting people. There were plenty of men and women to be sure," she said. "Everyone had a sweetheart if they wanted one."
After returning from the war, Palmer served at the Sampson Naval Hospital in New York, then returned home to Pennsylvania, married, and raised a family of four children - two girls, two boys.
Palmer continued to work as a nurse at Blossburg State Hospital and eventually Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital.
The experience of serving in the military left lasting impacts on both Parry and Palmer.
"It definitely makes you very appreciative of what the soldiers are going through today," Parry said.
These days, they reflect thoughtfully on that period of history and their lives now. Parry and Palmer have been residents at The Laurels Personal Care Home for over two years and know each other well.
"The Laurels seemed like a natural fit," Palmer said, who had lived and worked in the surrounding area for several years.
"I really like it here - I'm very satisfied," Parry agreed.
The Laurels Personal Care Home provides independent living for elderly members of the community, blending the services and security of traditional residential life with the pride and privacy of living in an apartment.
Each of the 30 individual apartments is equipped with a kitchenette, bathroom, clothes closet, linen closet, and either a combined bedroom and living-dining area, or a living-dining area with separate bedroom. Trained, supportive staff is on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that all services are available whenever they are needed.
For more information about The Laurels Personal Care Home, call 723-6860 or visit www.laurelhs.org.