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To honor veterans, readers share their war stories

From left, Jack Glaze of Ohio, George Kirk of Arizona, and Don Pilcher, now of Bellingham, served with the 3rd Signal Company, 3rd Marine Division, during World War II. During combat in Iwo Jima, Pilcher carried messages between battalion officers and Navajo code talkers. Kirk was one of about a dozen code talkers in their platoon.
From left, Jack Glaze of Ohio, George Kirk of Arizona, and Don Pilcher, now of Bellingham, served with the 3rd Signal Company, 3rd Marine Division, during World War II. During combat in Iwo Jima, Pilcher carried messages between battalion officers and Navajo code talkers. Kirk was one of about a dozen code talkers in their platoon. FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALD

BELLINGHAM - In honor of Veterans Day, we asked Whatcom County war veterans and their families to share photos and stories of military service, in battles from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, to the Gulf wars and Afghanistan.

Here’s a sampling of their stories. For more, go to bellinghamherald.com/veterans.

Dan McGrew of Bellingham joined the Merchant Marine in 1943 at age 17 and witnessed the sinking of the tanker SS Sackett’s Harbor — three years after an enemy submarine chased the tanker and it ran aground, cracking the hull.

Don Pilcher of Bellingham served in the 3rd Signal Company of the 3rd Marine Division during World War II, where he befriended a Navajo code talker whose encryption work enabled six Marine divisions to have secure communications for invasions in the Pacific Theater.

Paul Wentland tells of the memories that came flooding back to him when he visited a traveling version of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Bellingham in July.

Mary Kanikeberg, principal of Vista Middle School in Ferndale, tells of a heartwarming wedding toast to her son Drew, a C-17 pilot in the U.S. Air Force who airlifts supplies to troops in Afghanistan.

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