Coalition honors 24 veterans in memorial service

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Former military men, women called ‘defenders of freedom, country and flag

Members of the Nevada Veterans Coalition salute during a ceremony for unaccompanied veterans. Steve Ranson/LVN

By Steve Ranson, Nevada News Group

The Nevada Veterans Coalition remembered 24 veterans Thursday in the first unaccompanied service since February at the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery.

Because of restrictions placed on state facilities because of the coronavirus pandemic, all services were placed on hold, although the individual veterans were interred at the cemetery. The state cemetery is one of two located in Nevada. The other cemetery is located in Boulder City.

NVC member and narrator Sharon Serenko said the service gives veterans their final closure and thanks them for their duty to country and their heroism to service. She reflected on the veterans as defenders of freedom, country and flag and said their deeds will live in our hearts.

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“Every monument tells a story of a life given in service to others,” Serenko stressed.

After reading the names of the 24 veterans, she said it was an honor to know of these men and women.

“Soul after soul, we shall follow these departed veterans into the eternity beyond,” she said.

One such veteran was Fernley resident Robert Kizer, who served in the Navy during World War II.

As an 18-year-old gunner, Kizer never regretted enlisting in the Navy during World War II. The Navy petty officer first class said he felt fear every time he climbed into a TBM torpedo bomber, lifting off from an aircraft carrier in search of the enemy.

Known as one of the heaviest single-engine aircraft during World War II, the General Motors-built TBM Avenger flew a crew of three: a pilot, turret gunner and a radioman/bombardier/ventral gunner. In the bomb bay the Avenger carried one large torpedo or a single 2,000-pound bomb. Sometimes, crews would swap out one large bomb for four 500-pounders.

Kizer saw action in the South Pacific during the final two years of the war. His squadron, which was attached to the aircraft carrier USS Admiralty Islands, called Pearl Harbor home. Kizer served for two years on board the aircraft carrier before he was discharged at the end of the war at Pearl Harbor.

The service included a three-round volley from the NVC honor guard, the playing of “Taps,” a flag-folding ceremony conducted by Nevada Army National Guard soldiers Sgt. Christine Aguilar and Sgt. Manuel Monroy. Aguilar then presented the flag to Diane Martinez.

Other veterans remembered at the ceremony included the following: CS2 Donald Bartlett, Navy; Cpl. Danny Borgan, Army; Pvt. Steven Broussard, Army; Spec. 4 Samuel Casey, Army; HM2 Dorothy Davidson, Navy; Pvt. First Class Joseph Dean, Army; Spc. Kenneth Draves, Army; Petty Officer John Fitzpatrick; SN Frederick Fricke, Navy; Airman 2nd Class Roy Halvorsen, Air Force; Pvt. First Class Milton Linrud, Army; Pvt. First Class Stanley Marble, Army;  Pvt. First Class John Marshall, USMC; Airman 1st Class Jack McFarland, Air Force; PO2 Donald Mentzer, Navy; SR Donald Porter, Navy; Pvt. Steven Schoff; Pvt. Mark Spradley, Army; CS3 Ray Swinney; AA Robert Tarver, Navy; Pvt. Kimberly Tschirhart, Army; SN1 Wesley Wilkinson, Coast Guard; and Capt. Greg Zuniga, Marine Corps.

Sgt. Christina Aguilar of the Nevada Army National Guard presents a flag to Diane Martinez. Steve Ranson/LVN
Sgt. Manuel Monroy of the Nevada Army National Guard folds a flag during Friday’s unaccompanied service for veterans. Steve Ranson/LVN
The Nevada Veterans Coalition honor guard parades the colors. Steve Ranson/LVN
The Patriot Guard Riders march flags down to the pavilion. Steve Ranson / LVN

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