Vol. 5, No. 27
Until David Bellavia received his Medal of Honor on June 25, 2019, John Butts was the most recent recipient of the prestigious honor. However, Forrest Lee Vosler was the last Orleans County native to receive the medal while still living. Born on July 29, 1923 at Lyndonville, New York to William and Lottie Vosler, Forrest graduated from Livonia High School and enlisted in the U.S. Army at Rochester on October 8, 1942. Following basic training at Atlantic City, he received training as a radio operator at Scott Field, Illinois and later completed gunnery training at Harlingen, Texas. He received a promotion to the rank of Sergeant in May of 1943 and was again promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant in October of 1943 as his unit prepared for deployment overseas.
Vosler was assigned as a radio operator and aerial gunner aboard a B-17 Flying Fortress nicknamed the “Jersey Bounce Jr.” with the 358th Bombardment Squadron, 303rd Bombardment Group stationed out of England.… More
Vol. 5, No. 26
Of the five Medal of Honor recipients from Orleans County, John E. Butts of Medina was the only county native who received the award posthumously for his heroic actions near Cape La Hague, France. The son of Jerry and Anna Hogan Butts, John was born August 4, 1922 at Medina, New York. As a young man, he attended the St. Mary’s parochial school, joined Boy Scout Troop 25, and played right guard for the Medina High School football team before enlisting with the New York National Guard on October 12, 1939.
When Company F of the 108th Infantry was federalized, Butts was 17 years old and lied about his age in order to join. He was sent to Hawaii in the months following the attack at Pearl Harbor and later returned to the mainland in November of 1942 to enroll in the Officer Candidate School at Ft.… More
Volume 3, Issue 34
Over the summer I had the honor and privilege of visiting the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France. Dedicated in 1956, the cemetery encompasses 172.5 acres and serves as a final resting place for over 9,000 soldiers killed in action in Europe. Although the site was primarily used to bury those killed during the Normandy Breakout, many families requested that Normandy serve as the place of eternal rest for their deceased veterans regardless of where they were killed.
Wandering the sprawling fields lined with white crosses reveals ornately decorated stones etched in gold leaf, denoting the graves of men who received the Congressional Medal of Honor. One stone melds into the thousands of plainly lettered marble crosses, the stone of Sgt. George J. Quinn.
Born at Buffalo, NY on September 5, 1924, Quinn spent most of his life growing up in the vicinity of North Ridgeway. After graduating from Barker, he spent a short period of time working for Harrison Radiator in Lockport before he was inducted into service in March of 1943.… More
Vol. 3, Issue 20
Established in 1920, the Sheret Post #35 American Legion Band operated for over twenty years under the direction of William Melville of Rochester. The Livonia school band director joined the organization on April 18, 1930 and remained as the director into the 1950s.
After the conclusion of World War Two, the band was an active participant in dedicatory programs and memorial parades throughout the county. During the dedication of the statue of the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of Fatima, erected on the front lawn of St. Joseph’s Rectory in May of 1947, the Legion Band led the parade and furnished a beautiful rendition of the national anthem following the ceremony.
This photograph, taken by Fred Holt, shows the Legion Band marching out of St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Annual Memorial Day exercises typically included a parade from downtown Albion, to St. Joseph’s Cemetery, and finally to Mt. Albion Cemetery where veteran gravesites were decorated.… More
Volume 2, Issue 44
Seventy-six years ago, on October 24th, the young men of Company F, 108th Infantry departed Medina for training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Led by four officers, the 129 enlisted men proceeded from the Armory on Pearl Street to the New York Central Railroad Depot. At the helm of the parade was Albion’s Sheret Post Band, acting as official escorts, and led by Gen. John S. Thompson the acting parade marshal. The young men of Orleans County were later dispatched to Camp Forrest at Tennessee in June of 1941 for war maneuvers, roughly five months before the infamous Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
It was a mere twenty-three years after the men of Company F were dispatched for federal service on April 26, 1917 during “The Great War” that these men of our “greatest generation” so bravely left their homes to defend the world against tyranny and oppression.… More
Volume 2, Issue 23
Memorial Day was a weekend for self-reflection for many Americans, while others find enjoyment in spending time with family, vacations, and cook-outs. One noticeable presence during this past holiday weekend was the outcry of citizens asking for the greater community to remember the true meaning of the day; an opportunity to honor those men and women who gave everything for our country. Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,” stands as a statement that every American should memorize.
One thing that Orleans County does not lack is the appreciation and support of our veterans and members of the U.S. Armed Forces. In October of 2008, the Company F Memorial Committee dedicated a monument to the memory of those men who served out of Medina’s Armory with the 3rd N.Y. National Guard and the 108th U.S.… More
Old-Time Orleans, Vol. 1, Issue 34
This image, courtesy of the American Air Museum in Britain, shows Capt. Eugene E. Barnum of Gaines discussing the actions of his latest mission at Halesworth Airfield in Suffolk, England. The exact date of the image is unknown, but was passed for publication on November 26, 1943. Standing left to right is Lt. Col. Francis “Gabby” Gabreski, Lt. Eugene Barnum, and Lt. Frank Klibbe. Gabreski was shot down over Germany on July 20, 1944 and spent five days imprisoned in Stalag Luft I near Barth, Germany. Klibbe died on January 27, 1944 during a flight test when the engine of his P-47D failed.
Barnum, a native of Gaines, was placed with the 61st Fighter Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group stationed in Britain. While flying with the 56th Fighter Group, Barnum became the preferred wingman of “Gabby” Gabreski until December 2, 1944.… More