During his speech at American Legion Post 103's annual Veterans Day banquet on Saturday evening at Bavarian Hills, Rep. Matt Gabler (R-Clearfield/Elk) took a moment to reflect on the recent loss of World War II veteran James O. Auman, who died last Friday on Veterans Day.
Gabler explained that Auman was someone whom he always had a lot of respect for.
"He was somebody who was always a close friend of mine," Gabler said. "Many of you knew him as mayor, many knew him as a grandfather, friend, public servant, and shopkeeper, but I'd like to take a few minutes to focus on him as a Staff Sergeant in the Army Air Force in World War II."
Auman served as Gabler's campaign chairman, which provided plenty of opportunities for the two to talk.
"I remember talking to him, and he didn't like talking about his experiences in World War II. He carried these images with him the rest of his life, and I know they troubled him," Gabler said. "He didn't speak about it, but to my amazement I found out that he actually had written about it. I found some fascinating accounts that he wrote that some of his comrades had actually posted on the internet."
According to Gabler, these accounts are easily found through the Google search engine.
"If you were to just type into Google 'James O. Auman' you'd find these stories of World War II, and for myself to be able to read about these, it's one of the greatest sources of pride for me, even as a Reserve member of the military, is to consider the sacrifices and the experiences of those who have gone before [me]," Gabler said.
The online accounts include excerpts from Auman's flight log, along with various letters and other accounts.
Gabler shared with attendees Auman's account of Lucky #607, a B-24 bomber named the "Queen of Hearts." Auman was part of the 10-man crew.
"It's just one account of some of the experiences that he had, and as I read through that, it just became really clear and real to me," Gabler said. "I reflect on the fact that there are so many people in our local communities who, I'm sure, have had experiences that they've never talked about."
Gabler added that he is grateful for "all the generations that have gone before for everybody that has carried that with them."
"Not every injury and not every sacrifice is physical," Gabler said. "I know that certainly the mental scars that are carried along are terrible, but yet that's the price that our servicemen and women are willing to pay for freedom."