We’re losing the World War II generation, but some of the folks from that era are not only holding on but still vigorous.
I sat at a table with two of them last week during the holiday party for members of the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. They were 94-year-old Lou Vargo and 97-year-old Minotte Chatfield – both still animated and upbeat.
Eddie Sakasitz, 92, was at a nearby table with his wife, Catherine. They missed a few of the recent monthly meetings because he was hospitalized for weeks and is having trouble walking. But other than that, Eddie is still spirited.
He is a WWII veteran but wasn’t in the Bulge. Nor did he serve on the Allies’ side.
Eddie served in the German army, the Wehrmacht, and was machine-gunned in the legs in Italy. It’s amazing that he’s only now having serious trouble with them.
He and Catherine have been regular attendees since 2007, when the Bulge vets invited him after seeing his account in my series “War Stories: In Their Own Words” in The Morning Call.
At the holiday party, group President Morris Metz had intended for his fellow vets to talk about where they were and what happened to them on Dec. 16, 1944, the day the Germans started their offensive in the Ardennes.
But a surprise visitor arrived during the luncheon in the Best Western outside Bethlehem – legendary racing driver Mario Andretti of Nazareth.
He was there to go from table to table and shake the hand of every vet, just as he did in the fall of 2010 when the group was meeting at the old Terrace restaurant in Walnutport.
Mario has a special fondness for the veterans, having been a child in Italy during the war.
Morris apologized that the program didn’t go off as planned, but with Mario on the floor, no one seemed to mind.