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Wilmont VFW honors 4 Gold Star families

Families were recognized during Nov. 14 Veterans Day program in Wilmont.

WILMONT — Four Wilmont area Gold Star families were recognized during a Veterans Day program Nov. 14, at Wilmont VFW Post 2603.

The history of the “Gold Star Family” dates back to World War I, when military families displayed service flags featuring a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the Armed Forces.

The star color would be changed to gold if the family lost a loved one in the war — hence “Gold Star Families”.

The last Sunday in September is “Gold Star Family” day. This title is meant to honor the service member’s ultimate sacrifice while acknowledging their families loss, grief and continued healing.

The families of Marvin Menke, Raphael Vogt, Norbert Springman and Lauren Fritz were recognized during the program. A brief bio of each of the servicemen:

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Marvin Menke: The son of Leo and Clara Menke, Marvin entered the Army infantry on Feb. 10, 1942. His training took place at

Camp Forrest, Tennessee; Fort Brady, Michigan; North Devon, England and in France. Marvin served in the European Theatre. While there, he engaged in the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force and the Battle of the Bulge. On Jan. 30, 1945, Marvin was killed in the Battle of the Belgian Bulge. He served 35 months and 19 days, and attained the rank of Private First Class. Marvin was awarded the American Defense Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, European Theatre Ribbon and the Purple Heart.

Raphael Vogt: The son of Dan and Amy Vogt, Raphael entered the U.S. Army on April 18, 1942. His training took place at Camp Roberts and Fort Ord in California, and at Camp Pickett in Virginia. On

Oct. 25, 1942, Raphael left the U.S. and was sent to North Africa. While there, he engaged in battles in North Africa, Sicily, Tunisia and Anzio Beach. On March 25, 1944, Raphael was killed in action at Anzio Beach. He served 23 months and attained the rank of Private First Class. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart.

Norbert Springman: The son of Charles and Ida Springman, Norbert entered the U.S. Air Corp on Nov. 29, 1942. He trained in St. Petersburg, Florida, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Boca Raton, Florida, Fort Myers, Florida, Great Bend, Kansas and Kearney, Nebraska. On Oct. 20, 1944, Norbert left the U.S. and served in the

Pacific Theatre in Saipan and the Mariana Islands. He was engaged in 23 missions over Japan as a radar operator. This first raid was over Tokyo in a B-29 on Nov. 24, 1944. He was also a member of the crew who took Ernie Pyle, famous war correspondent, on his first B-29 ride over the Pacific, and he was interviewed by Ernie Pyle. On May 24, 1945, Norbert was reported as Missing in Action and later declared Killed in Action on Honshu Island. He served 30 months and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant. Norbert was awarded the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Good Conduct Medal and the Purple Heart.

Lauren Fritz: The son of Cecil and Frances Fritz, Lauren entered the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam

War and was attached to the 7th Air Force, 504th Tactical Air Support Group, 19th Tactical Air Support Squadron. He died on Dec. 24, 1969 in a non-hostile action air crash on land in South Vietnam, Phuoc Tuy Province. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and attained the rank of Sergeant. He was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Air Force Presidential Unit Citation and the Vietnam Gallantry Cross. His name is honored and inscribed on the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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