Paul Ness of Spring Valley recently retired from his position of commander of American Legion Post 68, however, he will continue to help keep the attention of area residents on the U.S. military.
Paul Ness of Spring Valley recently retired from his position of commander of American Legion Post 68, however, he will continue to help keep the attention of area residents on the U.S. military.
As Veterans Day approaches, making time to give the men and women who have served in the military forces recognition for the sacrifices they have made for the United States of America is vitally important.

This observance to honor veterans began in the year 1918 at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month when a "temporary cessation of hostilities or armistice, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect."

Veterans Day is one of two holidays set aside each year to express gratitude and to remember our military. Paul Edward Ness of Spring Valley takes time out of his work on the farm to share his reflections of Veterans Day.

"Like so many young men, I was eager to serve my country," say Ness.

"People might think, 'He's a hero.' but I just wanted to serve my country and when I came home, I just wanted to forget about war and live a peaceful life."

The United States Department of Veterans Affairs states that Veterans Day "is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service, to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated, and to underscore the fact that all those who served - not only those who died - have sacrificed and done their duty."

Ness served in the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945 and lived through the heart-wrenching experience of having comrades die, leaving him with the question of why he lived.

"My classmate, Rodney Week, son of Clarence and Gert Week, who graduated from Spring Valley High School in 1939, was killed in action during World War II. Families have a hard time when their loved ones are killed in war."

Remembering these young servicemen, like Robert Franklin Dormady, a neighbor who farmed near Ness, triggers misty eyes and memories. He was an Army Technician Fifth Grade and was killed at sea on board SS Masaya at Oro Bay, New Guinea.

Ness will also never forget the lightweight champion in his unit. "He had four boxing gloves and a jump rope and we worked out almost every day. When we got back to the states, he was going to be a professional boxer and I was going to be his manager," says Ness.

"Plans change so quickly. I do believe there is a God and He took care of me."

When his eyes filled with infection along with arthritis invading his body, Ness was forced to return to the states to recover.

"When I got back all my paperwork and possessions were lost. They might have been stolen, I don't know. I had marked clothes, a German bayonet and paperwork that just disappeared," says Ness.

"When I returned the officer I spoke with said that my records only showed that I had entered in Norfolk and was released at St. Olaf's Hospital. He said that the only ribbon or medal that I was eligible for was the 'good conduct medal.' I was so surprised."

It took Ness 50 years to finally write to the Bureau of Naval Personnel in St. Louis, Mo., and tell them his story. He encourages others to consider to check with the Bureau if their proper medals or ribbons were not awarded.

He added, "Six months later, I was sent a U.S. Navy Honorable Discharge Pin, Ruptured Duck pin (The Ruptured Duck is the only official all-branch "Honorable Discharge" lapel pin), American Campaign ribbon and pin, World War II ribbon and pin, European African Middle Eastern Campaign ribbon and pin, and a Good Conduct ribbon and pin."

Ness had the medals and pins framed with the words "Paul Ness, Sonarman 1st Class, WW II 1942 - 1945, US Navy" written below them. This display is proudly displayed in the Rochester home of his grandson, Ryan Ness, who mentions that it is "quite a conversation piece."

Paul Ness is proud of the men he has come to know over the years through his work with the Spring Valley American Legion and VFW.

"We're having a breakfast sponsored by the Legion and VFW on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.," says Ness. "I hope everyone comes down to the Spring Valley Community Center and supports it!"

For more information on Veterans' Day - what is happening in 2012, as well as the history of this government holiday, check out http://www.va.gov/opa/vetsday/.