Butler County honors 2 as Veterans of the Year, including World War II POW

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Butler County honors Jerry Nelson and Marvin Sizemore as Veterans of the Year.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Butler County honored two veterans Monday holding the dual title of Veteran of the Year — one man was a prisoner of war during Wold War II, the other is a West Chester Twp. resident who has worked to help fellow veterans and young people.

MORE VETERANS DAY COVERAGE: Middletown honors veterans in a pair of ceremonies

Marvin Sizemore enlisted in the Navy in 1940 and was a prisoner of war in Rangoon during World War II. He was forced to work on the Burma/Thai railway, also known as the “death railway” where more than 1,000 of 1,800 POWs died. He is one of only two known survivors.

When he retired in 1959, he joined the Oxford Police Department until 1980.

“It’s just unbelievable what the man went through and how he looked at life and how he looked at his experience in such a humble way,” said Ken Calihan, who nominated Sizemore. “He’s really in my definition what you’d call a great American hero.”

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Marvin Sizemore, left, one of two Veteran of the Year recipients at the annual Butler County Veteran’s Day program, is presented his award by Tom Jeffers from Butler County Veterans Service Commission Monday, Nov. 12.

Marvin Sizemore, left, one of two Veteran of the Year recipients at the annual Butler County Veteran’s Day program, is presented his award by Tom Jeffers from Butler County Veterans Service Commission Monday, Nov. 12.

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Marvin Sizemore, left, one of two Veteran of the Year recipients at the annual Butler County Veteran’s Day program, is presented his award by Tom Jeffers from Butler County Veterans Service Commission Monday, Nov. 12.

MORE: Thankfully our opinions of Vietnam veterans have changed

The other honoree, Jerry Nelson, enlisted in the Army in 1966 — after he graduated from Ohio State University — and spent two years training to be a combat medic and then as a biological scientist, serving stateside at three different locations. He then spent 20 years as a sales manager in the radiology and ultrasound division for Acuson/Siemans.

He was the founding commander of the West Chester American Legion Post 681, when it was reconstituted several years ago. Ever since, he has worked as a service officer, helping veterans and their families get benefits and has been active with post’s youth programs.

“It’s a real honor, I never thought I’d be selected for that,” he told the Journal-News of being named Butler County’s Veteran of the Year.

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Jerry Nelson, left, one of two Veteran of the Year recipients at the annual Butler County Veteran’s Day program, is presented his award by Tom Jeffers from Butler County Veterans Service Commission Monday, Nov. 12.

Jerry Nelson, left, one of two Veteran of the Year recipients at the annual Butler County Veteran’s Day program, is presented his award by Tom Jeffers from Butler County Veterans Service Commission Monday, Nov. 12.

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Jerry Nelson, left, one of two Veteran of the Year recipients at the annual Butler County Veteran’s Day program, is presented his award by Tom Jeffers from Butler County Veterans Service Commission Monday, Nov. 12.

RELATED: Butler County Veterans Court graduates two

Butler County Probate Judge Randy Rogers in his welcoming remarks said the county has done well supporting veterans and others with mental health services — the specialty courts like the Veterans Court that just graduated its first two clients last week as an example — but no one can rest on their laurels.

“I want to make a call to arms,” he said to the group of veterans and supporters assembled at Hamilton’s Veterans Park. “There are so many needs in the lives of our veterans. They are struggling with the trauma of doing the unthinkable, they are struggling with the pain that for them never goes away.”

“So my call to myself, to others in the government, and to those in this room — never forget those who served, especially those who continue to pay that price, every day for the rest of their lives,” Rogers said.

Former Butler County Veterans Board Commissioner Bob Perry said there is a large sector of veterans who think they don’t deserve accolades or even the benefits — health care, education, emergency assistance, etc. — because they may have served during peace time, or were doing jobs outside the limelight.

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Veterans stand at attention during the singing of the National Anthem at the annual Butler County Veterans Day program Monday, Nov. 12.

Veterans stand at attention during the singing of the National Anthem at the annual Butler County Veterans Day program Monday, Nov. 12.

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Veterans stand at attention during the singing of the National Anthem at the annual Butler County Veterans Day program Monday, Nov. 12.

“I know I’m preaching to the choir, but as choir members we have work to do I think,” Perry said in his address as the keynote speaker at Monday’s event. “There are veterans out there that do not join in and do not accept what our nation wants to bestow on them … Their famous reasons for refusing to get involved and accept benefits is there was no war, I wasn’t in combat, I didn’t do anything.”

MORE: Local man goes from expected to die at birth to turning 104 on Veterans Day

He said all of those behind-the-scenes service people gave their oath, not knowing what their futures could bring, and endured many struggles because of their service.

“We as the choir still have a job to do and that’s to get those veterans in,” Perry said. “How can we do that? We can do that by explaining to them reminding them of the sacrifices they did make.”

The attendees at the ceremony — hosted by the Butler County Veterans Service Commission — also heard from Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller — who announced a Purple Heart Memorial is coming to Veterans Park soon — watched the Edgewood High School junior Air Force ROTC salute the colors and heard robust renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” from Richard Ruby.

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