Memories of service still vivid |

Memories of service still vivid


When Park City resident Max Miller heard the TV commercials for Ken Burns’ recently released documentary’ "The War," they struck a nerve. According to Burns, 1,000 veterans of World War II are dying every day, and as they are buried so are their stories. That convinced Burns, the filmmaker famous for his series, "The Civil War," to undertake an equally ambitious project, a seven-part documentary on World War II.

Miller had only to look at the wall in his study to confirm what he was hearing. Of the four handsome young fighter pilots and their instructor in a faded black-and-white photograph by his desk, he is the only one still alive. And each time he attends a reunion of U.S. Army Air Corps sergeant pilots, the group photo is smaller.

So, after watching a few episodes of "The War," Miller marched up to The Park Record with a list of local veterans whose stories he knew had to be told, and soon. Within a week he had arranged a dinner to introduce his golfing buddies, bridge partners and other veterans he had heard about through the grapevine, to a group of Record reporters. The room buzzed with eager questions and tales of adventure. A surprise guest, who was also given a warm welcome, offered, in turn, a unique perspective on a painful era 60 years ago. Ted Honseler was 16-year-old in Essen, Germany when he was drafted by the German Army.

Ralph Gates, a local veteran with a keen interest in preserving oral histories from World War II, reminded his colleagues and the reporters that Honseler’s experience had been much different — his country had lost everything, and though many Americans had lost their lives, their cities had not been destroyed. Gates added that, until now, Honseler has been reluctant to speak about his experiences. Gates also introduced The Record to Tom Harrison, a former Parkite who now lives in Salt Lake City and who is one of the few remaining survivors of the Bataan Death March. Harrison is profiled in this edition.

Both Miller and Gates were concerned about those who would be left out of this Veterans’ Day Tribute. We assured them, though, that The Record will continue to collect local soldiers’ stories, including those who have served in subsequent conflicts. For instance, Stephen Eles, who now lives in Snyderville and was in the Battle of the Bulge, will be featured in an upcoming edition. Readers are welcome to add to the list of upcoming Summit County veterans’ features by e-mailing names and contact information to

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