VFW, Liberty NJROTC get Gordon Shumacher his flag

December 4, 2014

By Kathleen R. Merrill

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By Kathleen R. Merrill World War II veteran Gordon Schumacher, 91, is helped by his sons Dale (left) and Dean as Liberty NJROTC members Emily Magley (with her back to the camera) and Tina Kaiser fold his flag while the VFW’s Dave Waggoner (in hat) looks on.

By Kathleen R. Merrill
World War II veteran Gordon Schumacher, 91, is helped by his sons Dale (left) and Dean as Liberty NJROTC members Emily Magley (with her back to the camera) and Tina Kaiser fold his flag while the VFW’s Dave Waggoner (in hat) looks on.

It was a sunny Saturday that a group of Liberty High School students gave up to honor a 91-year-old World War II veteran on his birthday.

And they wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As members of the Junior Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, Emily Magley and Tina Kaiser learned how to properly fold a flag into a triangle, and they practiced it multiple times before the ceremony where they presented it to Gordon Schumacher, an Army sergeant who built B-17s, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and was in the first group into Bergen Belsen, the last operating concentration camp in Germany.

Dave Waggoner, with Issaquah’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3436, taught Magley and Kaiser how to present the flag and then to fold it so no red would be showing when it was done. The girls’ hands shook as they repeated the folding again and again.

But that nervousness was gone and they appeared skilled and poised when the time came to do the job. So did the rest of the NJROTC students — Dan LeCompte, Nicole Di Fazio, Evian Adams, Robert LeCoque, Zach Teeters and Taeya Dammann.

Schumacher, who lived in Providence Point before moving to Brookdale in Federal Way, smiled wide when he saw all the people at his birthday party. He smiled even wider when he saw the teens come out of a room where they had been hidden and begin their color guard duties. The second he saw a uniform, he tried to struggle from his wheelchair to his feet.

“He will want to stand, because he thinks everyone should stand when they see people who have served,” his son Dale Schumacher said before his father was wheeled into the room.

Stand he did, with his sons Dale and Dean at his sides. And he remained standing through the presentation of the flag, sitting only after Waggoner handed it to him.

“Well, it’s good I got my flag now, before I died,” Gordon Schumacher said with another wide smile.

He chatted with the students as they came to him after the service, one by one shaking his hands and thanking him for his military service.

On a nearby table sat memorabilia he had brought back from Germany, including a Walther PPK, a steel helmet, Nazi armbands and a rock from the building where Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide.

Members of his extended family crowded around the table to look at a book from his Army training class and the other items there — his dogtags, numerous medals he earned (including a Bronze Star) and a shovel he used to dig foxholes.

“I’ve always wanted to see this stuff,” a teenage granddaughter excitedly exclaimed.

That same teen later cried tears of admiration throughout the flag presentation. In all, there were five generations present for the birthday party turned honor.

Gordon Schumacher was also given a quilt by Kathy Beach, from Quilts of Honor, a volunteer organization that makes and presents the blankets to veterans across the country.

The ceremony was organized after Gordon Schumacher’s Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., was canceled because he was not well enough to go.

Honor Flight takes veterans to memorials free of charge, and has been focusing on World War II veterans.

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