Bill Poole, Moderator
Bill Poole, who has degrees in Chemistry, biochemistry, and history, taught college level history and science before spending 20 years in the textbook publishing industry. A member and former Captain Commanding of the Lexington Minute Men, he portrays Ebenezer Locke, his sixth great-grandfather. A US Army veteran, he is a longtime member and former President of the Lexington Historical Society.
Puran Dang, Panelist
Puran Dang grew up in India in what is now part of Pakistan. While 200,000 Indian troops fought in the war, Mahatma Gandhi was leading an internal struggle to free India from 200 years of British rule. The British departed after the war, but first they divided India into two countries, creating the nation of Pakistan. Puran’s Hindu family was persecuted in their new Muslim country and fled for their lives back to India, taking decades to rebuild their lives.
George Gamota, Panelist
George Gamota was born near the Polish-Ukraine border in an area caught between the approaching Soviet army under Joseph Stalin and the invading German army under Adolf Hitler. Fearing banishment to Siberia or execution, the family set out to cross the Carpathian Mountains in a primitive horse-drawn wooden cart. In a journey that lasted nearly a year and took them through Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, and Austria, the Gamota family finally found refuge in American-occupied Germany, and eventually in America.
Sophia Ho, Panelist
Sophia Ho spent her girlhood in a China torn apart by war. Chiang Kai-Shek and his Nationalist Army fought for control of China with Mao Zedung and his Communists, backed by the Soviets. In 1935 the Japanese invaded China in a war that lasted eight years. As the daughter of a general in Chiang Kai-Shek’s army, Sophia saw the war firsthand, always keeping one step ahead of the advancing Japanese. In 1941, China was caught up in World War II. By 1948 the Communists were in control, and the Nationalists were in full retreat.
Ivor Morgan, Panelist
Ivor Morgan grew up in London during the Blitz, Hitler’s plan to bomb Britain into submission. His Welsh parents ran a grocery and milk business not far from Hyde Park, and the family lived upstairs. Ivor and his brother were sent several times to his grandparents in the Welsh countryside for safety, but he still has many memories of the close calls with bombs falling on nearby buildings, the blackouts, air raids, searchlights, and anti-aircraft gunfire. Ten years after the war, Ivor joined the RAF, became an officer, and worked on the radar system that warned the RAF of incoming German raids during the war.
Dr. Julie Hackett, Superintendent of Schools and the proud granddaughter of a World War II veteran, will serve as Moderator with Panelists George Burnell, Shirley Stolz, and Bill Mix. Dr. Hackett began her career in Maine 25 years ago as teacher, dean of students, principal, and curriculum director. She served as Superintendent of Schools in Taunton for ten years, receiving the 2018 Massachusetts Superintendent of the Year honors. She is a former president of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.
George Burnell, A product of Lexington High School and Boston University, entered the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He then began a manufacturing career, becoming President of four different companies in the marine, aerospace, medical and electronics industries. From 1983 to 1998 he was owner and CEO of four companies under the ICON Corp. umbrella in motion control, factory automation, 2D printing, electronic scales, and contract assembly. He continues to consult for ICON in transition management. Returning home to Lexington in 1977, George re-engaged with the community, becoming a Town Meeting member and chairing the Appropriations Committee and the Capital Expenditures Committee. He served six years as Selectman. Currently he serves on the Economic Development Advisory Committee and hosts a lecture series on Economics, Finance and Science at Lexington Community Center and Cary Memorial Library.
Shirley Stolz served as Grand Marshal of the Veterans Day Parade in 2018 that observed the 100-year anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. Shirley’s uncle, Stanley Hill, was one of eight Lexingtonians who lost their lives in that war. She was a teenager when World War II broke out. While attending high school in Northampton, MA, Shirley and her classmates contributed to the war effort by picking potatoes, apples and asparagus on a local farm each morning before school. An active volunteer for Lexington, Shirley was a Town Meeting Member for 30 years and former Chair of the Town Meeting Members Association. She has served on the Capital Expenditures Committee, the Lexington Field and Garden Club, the Conservation Commission, and the Friends of the Council on Aging. A Founding Member of the Cary Memorial Library Foundation, she is a 2006 recipient of the Minute Man Cane Award.
Bill Mix was a teenager growing up in neighboring Belmont during the War. Bill joined the US Army after graduation from Boston University’s ROTC program in 1953 and served during the Korean War era and the Cold War as part of the NATO defense forces. A Lexington resident since 1974, Bill has played an active role in preserving Lexington’s history. He is the Past President of the Lexington Historical Society, Past Captain Commanding of the Lexington Minute Men Company, and Co-Founder of the William Diamond Jr. Fife & Drum Corps. Bill’s business career has centered around domestic and international logistics. For 30 years he has owned and operated Grove Logistics Services, Inc., headquartered in Lexington with offices in Memphis, Tennessee, Elkton, Virginia, and Jacksonville, Florida.
Audience members will be invited to share their own experiences and describe how family members did their part to win the war while living on the home front.
The program is free and open to the public but registration is required. Places are limited to 100 so early registration is advised. Register here.
Bebe Fallick’s mother Mildred immigrated to the US from Belarus shortly after World War I. She corresponded with her large extended family through World War II, and kept it up even when she no longer received any letters back. By the end of the war, only five men survived from a family of 200. Mildred was eventually reunited with her brother and nephew who came to live with her in Connecticut. Bebe will relate her mother’s story in a slide presentation entitled, “Letters to a Lost Family.”
Heidi Tyson, daughter of Holocaust survivor Regina Pluda, will tell Regina’s amazing story of courage, grit, and survival from the Warsaw Ghetto, Majdanek and Auschwitz camps.
Except for her great aunt, uncle and cousins who lived in Milan, Cheryl Meadow’s entire maternal family fled Frankfurt in 1938 and emigrated to countries throughout western Europe and Palestine. Cheryl will share the experiences of Minna, Leppo and their kids, who were living in Milan at the start of the occupation, including multiple identity changes while being hidden in the mountains of Gandino, Through the highly organized efforts of non-Jewish friends and well-intentioned strangers, Minna and her kids survived.
Peter Lund, US Navy veteran and proud of his Danish heritage, will tell the story of how the people of Denmark refused to exterminate, imprison or turn over their Jewish citizens and instead risked everything to save them.
Cantor Lisa Doob from Temple Isaiah will open and close the program with a performance of Holocaust music.
Pearl Harbor Ceremony to Mark End of WWII Limited to Local Veterans
Associated Press, August 26, 2020
HONOLULU — A Pearl Harbor ceremony marking the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II — possibly the last opportunity for many aging U.S. veterans to commemorate the day — will be limited to survivors of the war living in Hawaii because of coronavirus concerns.
The plan before Friday had been to allow about 200 people, mostly WWII veterans, their families and government officials, to gather on the battleship USS Missouri, which hosted the Japanese surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay.
IRS Reopens Deadline for Veterans who Missed Coronavirus Stimulus Checks
Posted August 21, 2020
Leo Shane, III
Veterans Affairs officials are reminding families who missed out on some coronavirus stimulus checks last spring that they have a few more weeks left to claim that cash.
In a social media post Friday morning, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie urged veterans who think they may be eligible for the money to contact the Internal Revenue Service and see if they are owed any money.
“Crash Landing: Gliders - The Flying Coffins of World War II"
Posted JUNE 3, 2020
The Lexington Veterans Association will hold its regularly scheduled June 8 meeting virtually on Zoom at 1:15pm,
On March 24, 1945, a young man from Stoneham named Peter Paicos climbed into the cockpit of his Waco CG-4A Combat Glider and prepared for takeoff from an airfield in France. He was a glider pilot with the Army Air Forces. His mission was to land his glider behind enemy lines in Operation Varsity, a major allied airborne offensive across the Rhine River that would open the way for the final push to encircle and capture the Ruhr, the German industrial heartland. Operation Varsity was the largest single-day airborne operation of the war.
Veterans Can Attend Their VA Claims Hearings at Home Starting Next Year
Veterans who appeal a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) decision on their benefits claim will soon be able to make their appearance before the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) from the comfort of their home.
Beginning in 2020, VA will implement virtual claims appeals through the same technology they use for virtual medical appointments. The technology has been tested more than 150 times and works on both computers and cellphones.