Tahoma National Cemetery salutes Korean War Veterans during Veterans Day
Veterans Day 2017 is a little more special this year as it is the 20th anniversary of Tahoma National Cemetery opening its grounds to all military veterans to be laid to rest after serving their country with honor and distinction.
This year’s special ceremony honoring all military members who have served or are currently serving this Nation will be held at Tahoma National Cemetery (TNC) on Saturday, November 11 beginning at 11 a.m. The theme of the ceremony, Saluting our Korean War Veterans, will give special honor to those serving from 1950-53 in what has become known as The Forgotten War. Korean War Army Veteran, George Rossman, will be the Keynote speaker.
The youngest of 9 children born in Rapid City, South Dakota on June 16, 1933, Rossman and his family moved to the State of Washington in 1939 where his father worked in the Bremerton Naval Shipyards. In 1943, the family moved once again, this time to Enumclaw where Rossman attended Enumclaw schools and graduated from Saint Martin’s High School in 1951.
Shortly after enrolling at the University of Idaho, Rossman was drafted into the Army where he received Infantry basic training at Ft. Ord in California. His entry into the military came after his 5 older brothers served on active duty during World War II.
Following basic training, Rossman was sent to Sasebo, Japan for further specialized CBR (Chemical Biological Radiology) training. Then on December 23, 1952, he landed at Inchon, South Korea where he was assigned to the 21st AAA Battalion, 25th Infantry Division and assigned as a crew member on a M-16 Quad 50 Halftrack.
After being Honorably Discharged, Rossman started his own business, retiring in 1998 after 35 years as a local Insurance Broker. Actively serving the community of Enumclaw through boards, commissions, and City Council, he also served as Mayor for 2 terms from 1995 thru 2001. It was as Mayor of Enumclaw that he enjoyed his proudest work through the construction of the Veterans Memorial Park and Purple Heart Memorial together with Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 1949 – of which he has been a Life Member since 1956. The memorial honors all area service members, who gave of their lives in past wars. Today, Rossman resides in Enumclaw together with his wife, Marleen, of 61 years.
TNC will once again welcome as Guest Speaker for the event LCol Wappler, who is currently the Commanding Officer of the Royal Canadian Air Force Detachment at Joint Base Louis-McChord (JBLM). He began his career in 1990 under the Officer Candidate Training Plan. He went on to train as an Air Traffic Control Officer with combined IFR/VFR training at the Canadian Forces Air Traffic Control Training Unit in Cornwall.
Commissioned to 2nd Lt, Wappler posted to CFB Comox where he completed his operational qualifications in both tower and terminal. Advanced air defense conversion training came in 1999 at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Control Operations (CFSACO)in Cornwall. Posting to the 21 Air Control and Warning Squadron in North Bay, he went on to complete operational qualifications in Weapons Director and Senior Director. Then in 2004, he was posted to CFSACO in 2004, where he served as VFR, IFR and Weapons instructor and served as both Air Traffic and Air Weapons Standards Officer.
Promoted to the rank of Major in 2008, Wappler was then posted to the 552 Air Control Wing, Tinker AFB, OK for a tour flying on the E-3 AWACS. Over the next four years, he qualified as an E-3 Mission Crew Commander (MCC) before upgrading to Instructor and Evaluator MCC. He proudly served with the 964th and 966th Airborne Air Control Squadrons and has accumulated over 1600 hours on the E-3 – 600 of which were combat hours. While at Tinker, he conducted four operational deployments: two tours for Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), OP Carribe (Caribbean theatre Counter Drug Operations), and OP PODIUM (2010 Winter Olympics Air Policing).
Most recently, Wappler conducted a staff tour in the office of Aerospace Standards and Regulation (ASR), 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg. He was also responsible for the establishment and maintenance of ATC and Air Defense standards and regulations for all RCAF units in Canada.
Academic achievements include a Bachelor of Arts and Science from the Royal Military College as well as a Master of Science degree in Aerospace from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He is also a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, AL.
LCol Wappler’s Canadian Royal Forces Detachment from Joint Base Lewis McChord will join him at the TNC Veterans Day ceremony along with their family members. They will not only be paying respect to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, but also their Canadian military brothers and sisters. Canadians honor their service members on November 11th as well, during what they call Remembrance Day.
Another special salute to the Veterans will take place with a flyover from King County Sheriff’s Office Guardian One. Piloting Guardian One will be Keith Potter, a 16-year Army Veteran along with co-pilot Guy Herndon, a 10-Year Navy Veteran.
Keep in mind that parking space for the Veterans Day ceremony will be limited in the cemetery. Plan to walk to and from your parking spot to the ceremony. Disabled Parking is available with a shuttle.
Special Note from TNC staff: Veterans Day is a special time for Americans to reflect on the contributions of the nearly 22 million men and women who brought freedom to so many. On this Veterans Day and every day at the VA, we salute our Veterans and extend gratitude for their service. This ceremony as well as others at VA national cemeteries across the country, is a way to say thank you to Americas service members past and present, as we salute our nation’s Veterans.