Two remarkable men were honored at the North Coast’s Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11.
World War II veteran Jack Gibson and Jay Burbank, recipient of the prestigious Don Bowman Patriot of the Year award from American Legion Post No. 432, both received standing ovations and rousing rounds of applause from the capacity crowd.
Gibson, 91, is a fourth-generation Californian and Army master sergeant who was shot down March 2, 1945, over Singapore. He and his fellow crewmen were in the water for some time before being captured by the enemy. He was jailed (mostly in solitary confinement) in Outram Prison and sentenced to death. However, the war ended before the sentence was carried out and he was eventually rescued from the prisoner-of-war camp. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross with cluster, Air Medal with Clusters and Bronze Star.
“He held the audience spellbound,” said Post Commander Terry Farrell said of Gibson’s keynote speech.
Air Force veteran, Post Sergeant-at-Arms and artist Jay Burbank was honored for his often-demonstrated patriotism and dedication to the post. He created various artworks for the American Legion flag stand, including the bugler and the Missing-In-Action soldier. He also created stainless steel cutouts of the words Bravery, Country, Courage, Duty, Gratitude, Honor, Integrity, Liberty, Peace and Pride, which are mounted on step risers to the flag stand’s memorial deck. Burbank created the Iwo Jima wood sculpture and built the superstructure that supports a huge flag from a raised cherry-picker bucket, and is frequently perched high on a tall ladder, taking photographs of Post events.
Participants in the Veterans Day event included: Presentation of colors and service flags by Post honor guard and Legion Riders, respectively; music by George Gray; Boy Scout Logan Hodges leading the Pledge of Allegiance; trumpeter Barbara Webber playing the National Anthem; the Cambria chorale singing “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor,” and Barbara MacDonough’s explanation of the significance of that song; 4-H member Meg Stern speaking on “What is a Vet?”; a gun salute; and presentation of red roses to the nearly 70 veterans in the audience.
After the ceremony, Sons of the American Legion provided barbecued burgers and hot dogs to about 200 people.