With three weeks left until Memorial Day, the Albert Gordon American Legion Post 56 would like to continue to introduce some of their members, and let them relate to you just what Memorial Day means to them.

Jason Mergele has lived in Jackson County since 1998. A native of San Antonio, Texas, he began his service in 1984 with the Texas Army National Guard. Upon graduation from the University of Texas at San Antonio, he received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He served in various assignments at Fort Lewis, Washington, South Korea, Fort Sill, Oklahoma. and the University of Georgia. A 31-year member of the American Legion, he currently serves as the Post Adjutant at Post 56.

“Growing up in a military family and city, Memorial Day has always been a sacred holiday," he said. "I especially remember the 56 Americans who lost their lives on the Korean Peninsula, since the armistice ending the Korean War, was signed in 1953. Sadly, the Korean War is called ‘The Forgotten War.’ Even more forgotten are the several incidents with North Korea since 1953 that have resulted in American deaths. Most of these took place during the 1960s and 1970s.

One incident Mergele remembers is the ‘Tree Trimming Incident’ in 1976.

"Two American soldiers were axed to death by North Korean soldiers as the attempted to trim a tree at the truce village at Panmunjom, near the Demilitarized Zone," he said. "The tree was eventually trimmed without incident in a show of force by the U.S. and South Korean military named ‘Operation Paul Bunyan.’"

In the picture of Mergele that was taken in 1992, he is standing next to a part of the trunk from the tree that was trimmed.

"This Memorial Day, let us remember all who lost their lives in the service of our country in events great and small," he said.

"Memorial Day is a day to honor those men and women of the Armed Services who gave their lives in service to their country," said Joseph Ruttar. "To help put that in perspective, each week we will continue to provide a snapshot of the number of veterans lost in all of our country’s wars."

Civil War (1861-1865) 655,000 casualties combined.

Spanish American War (1898) 2,246 casualties.

World War I (1914-1918) 116,516 casualties.

"Come and honor our fallen heroes by coming to the American Legion Post 56 at 309 Lee St., Jefferson, Memorial Day Event on Memorial Day May 31 at 10 a.m., Ruttar said.


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