Local WWII vet attends ship christening

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RANGELY — Julius and Lomell Poole, long-time residents of Rangely, traveled to New Orleans, La., to attend the March 1, 2008, christening of the USS New York LPD 21 (amphibious transport dock ship).
Along with 64 other World War II veterans or the USS New York BB-34 (battleship), Julius was invited to attend the christening as an honored guest. Julius and Lomell were accompanied by the son and daughter-in-law Keith and Colleen Poole, daughter and son-in-law Julianne and Jerry Belland and grandson Ian McDonald.
The USS New York BB-34 served the United States Navy during both WWI and WWII. The BB-34 provided naval gunfire support in the invasion of northwest Africa Nov. 8, 1942, and participated in pre-invasion bombardment of Iwo Jima and the invasion of Okinawa. The BB-34 earned three battle stars for WWII service.
The motto of USS New York LPD 21 is “Strength, Forged Through Sacrifice. Never Forget.” This is a reminder of Sept. 11, 2001. Seven and one half tons of steel recovered from the World Trade Center was cast as the bow stem of this warship and will serve as a tribute to the heroes of 9/11. The LPD 21 will support amphibious assault, special operations or expeditionary warfare missions throughout the first half of the 21st century.
This ship will also play a pivotal role in maintaining national security. To a standing ovation, Vito Fosella, R-NY, made the following statement: “If the USS New York has to follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell, PCO Jones and his crew have my full support.”
As the motto “May We Never Forget” reminds of 9/11, may we also never forget the sacrifices made by the thousands of service men and women as well as those on the home front (the greatest generation) during WWII. Their service and patriotism guaranteed future generations of the United States the freedoms we now enjoy. Let us never take them for granted.
Proudly sitting with my parents at the christening, surrounded by the humble, extraordinary veterans of WWII, I was strikingly reminded; were it not for them and many others who did not return, we all might have grown up under a regime controlled by Hitler or Hirohito. The only words that seemed adequate were “thank you.”