WWII vets do memorial landscaping

  • World War II veterans Ron Powers and Bernie Schatz groom around a veteran’s monument near Greenfield High School. Recorder staff/Diane Broncaccio

  • World War II veterans Bernie Schatz and Ron Powers spruce up the World War II monument near Greenfield High School. Recorder photo/Diane Broncaccio—

Recorder Staff
Thursday, May 18, 2017

GREENFIELD — As temperatures climbed into the 90s Thursday morning, two World War II veterans, who turn 90 in July, were busy with rakes and cutting tools, cleaning brush and trimming shrubbery surrounding a memorial marker in front of the Greenfield High School ballfields.

The marker was placed there by the Veterans of Foreign Wars/VFW Greenfield Post 417 on Nov. 11, 2003.

Working in the bright sun, Ron Powers and Bernie Schatz of Greenfield were trimming back the bushy rhododendron, which was on the verge of engulfing the stone, and restore the newly sandblasted “ruptured duck” WWII emblems that hold small American flags near the stone.

The nicknamed “ruptured duck” pins were awarded to honorably discharged veterans during World War II. The insignia is actually meant to depict an eagle bursting through a button, but the joke that it looked more like a “ruptured duck” took hold.

At one time, there would have been others helping out. The Greenfield VFW had 47 members, Schatz and Power recalled, but recently Post 417’s charter was taken away when its numbers had dwindled to four.

“We’re going to clean this stone and replace the white (gravel stone) around it,” explained Powers, an Army veteran. “We’re doing it for the guys,” he said.

Schatz, a Navy veteran, brought the two flag-holders back to see how they looked against the cleaner landscape.

An Eisenhower Green Ash Tree behind the marker is still too young to provide much shade, and the men said they’re looking for planting ideas, to brighten up the commemorative spot.