Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.
Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country.
The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation.
Duckett Creek Sanitary District likes to honor our veterans. Currently about 10% of the workforce at the District are veterans. In the past, we have honored those staff members. This year, for Memorial Day, we are honoring one of our staff member’s family. Charles Wonsewitz is the father-in-law to Ron Geimer.
“Buck” Sergeant – Charles Wonsewitz
Branch: United States Marines
Basic Training: Marine Corps recruit Depot – San Diego, California
Stationed: Mare Island, California
Charles served in the United States Marine Corps from 1951 to 1954. Basic training was in San Diego California. The history of the Marine Corps base in California goes back to a speech made by then Colonel Joseph Pendleton in 1914. The subject of the speech was “San Diego, An Ideal Location for a Permanent Marine Corps Base.”
Interesting fact: In 1921, General Joseph Pendleton commissioned the base in San Diego as the Marine Advanced Expeditionary Base. The base retained that name for 24 years. On January 1, 1948 the base was renamed to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego. Today the depot consists of 388 acres and has 25 buildings listed on the national register of Historic places.
Sergeant Wonsewitz says about Memorial Day, “We have lost a lot of good men of which many were friends of mine. They were just doing their jobs just like the rest of us. I feel really bad for them.”
Charles has a history of military service in his family. His father served 18 years in the United States Army, some of which were during World War II. If his father had not met his mother, he would have served more time. Charles’s Uncle Leo also served in the Army during World War II. He enlisted and made it through basic training with his cousin, Leo Jr.
Although the marines were very good to Charles, he often thinks he is not sure he would do it again. He saw terrible fighting and lost many marine brothers during the Korean War. He was among the first marines to land in Korea on a Landing Ship, Tank (LST). Charles served as a sniper and was often the point man on patrols. Charles was wounded in Korea while on a patrol of Hill 812 during the Battle of Punchbowl. One of his fellow marines was killed by stepping on a land mine. Charles, as well as several other marines, were hit with shrapnel. Charles received the Purple Heart. Although this was a low point in his service, there were many good times. He obviously made many lifelong friends during his service. Charles’s service time was highlighted by a boat ride. He still remembers thinking he was glad to be alive when riding the ship back from the Korean War. He has many fond memories of being a MP on Mare Island near San Diego.
Sergeant Charles Wonsewitz will be taking part in an Honor Flight May 18,2019. The Honor Flight is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing veterans with honor and closure. Charles along with other veterans will be flying to Washington to visit war memorials.
Duckett Creek Sanitary District is proud to honor veterans like Charles. Veterans like Sergeant Charles Wonsewitz are why we live in such a great nation.
From the Staff at Duckett Creek Sanitary District
Thank you Sergeant Charles Wonsewitz