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Saluting Our Veterans

Published: 2020-11-08 08:00

Honor, Duty & Sacrifice

As the U.S. Key Account Manager for Government Business, it is both an honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to serve those who have served us. But it doesn’t stop there. No, it goes much deeper than that for me! Like many, it is a personal endeavor of mine because of the rich history of military service of my relatives who have done their part to ensure our freedoms; to ensure my ability to speak freely and to publicly acknowledge their sacrifice, which has allowed all of us to enjoy the rights and freedoms of our great nation. While we may experience some “healthy tension” from time to time, we are the United States of America!

A Date Which Will Live in Infamy

As I begin to write this section of the blog, I can feel myself getting both chills and a little choked up. December 7th has always been a very special day for me. Not only is it the day of my birth, but my dad was also a Pearl Harbor Survivor.

My dad: Stationed at Pearl Harbor on March 2, 1941… his 19th birthday

Growing up, I had the opportunity to attend many functions of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association and meet many exceptional men and women during that period of my life. On my fifteenth birthday, I had the honor of attending the state ceremony and stood with the survivors and their spouses on the steps of the Pennsylvania state capital. Later that evening, at their ceremony, they presented ME with a cake and sang happy birthday. Several years later, in 1980, I had the honor of playing “taps” at one of their conventions.

In the early 90’s, several of the men, including my dad, were honored for their service. There is no need for me to elaborate; the picture is all that you need.

Yankee Doodle Doctor

While I am trying to inject a little humor by the title of this heading, I’m sure that my Uncle Lew would be laughing along with me. For those of you who are children of the 70’s, Yankee Doodle Doctor was a title of an episode from M*A*S*H. Truthfully, I can hear his laugh and his familial manner of saying my name…Choey. It’s those little things that help us to remember our loved ones, as well as all of those who touched our lives and helped to make us the people that we are.

While in high school and during his first year at the United States Military Academy, Uncle Lew dated a young lady from our home town, who many of you may know as Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones). Eventually, he married my Aunt Rose and they had five children.

Upon graduating from USMA, he proceeded to obtain his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and began his career as a surgeon in the Army. Like Hawkeye, he even spent time in setting up Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals in Korea, in the late 70’s. Shortly after he returned to the States, he received his second star and finished his career as Commander at Walter Reed.

Colonel Darryl Egler

Of special note, I want to honor my brother-in-law Colonel Darryl Egler, who is also a graduate of the United Stated Military Academy, as well as two of my cousins (two of Uncle Lew’s sons) who attended the United States Naval Academy, one of whom went to medical school and spent his naval career as an orthopedic surgeon. Salutes go out to Darryl, Mike and Dr. Tim!

Keeping Their Memory Alive

In order to preserve our freedom and our country, it’s imperative that I do my part to keep the memory of these great men alive. And, to be honest, I am just scratching the surface of those whom I would like to mention; Great men like Pearl Harbor Survivors Colonel Johnson (Air Force), Floyd Laughlin and Dave Bedell.

Over the years, I’ve had the honor to serve as the Pennsylvania State Chair, as well as the National Vice President for the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors. During that time, I was able to represent the organization on Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery and present a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. But, while that was a great honor, the real honor was when I was interviewed from the shore of Pearl Harbor on the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. https://www.facebook.com/1315662379/videos/10211253414873920/

Today, I had the honor of interviewing WWII Veteran Hugh McNaughton, who was part of a twelve-man squadron that crashed into Kaneohe Bay (Oahu) during a routine patrol in their PMB-5 seaplane, on Christmas Eve 1944. Hugh was one of only six survivors from that Christmas Eve tragedy and, the only survivor who remains today.

Hugh joined the Navy in June of 1943 and eventually retired from the military in 1947. During his assignment stateside, following his recovery from the injuries that he sustained in the crash, Hugh met his bride of 70 years.

Today, Hugh lives in a retirement facility and reportedly is doing very well; continuing to get around well and still driving at the young age of 94. Unfortunately, shortly after their 70th anniversary on March 1, 2017, Hugh’s wife passed away.

Wish Of A Lifetime

With great pride, I am honored to report that Essity helped Hugh return to Oahu on July 16, 2019, as the age of 92, to honor his crew by tossing a lei into the harbor. When I spoke with him, he stated that he was emotional when he first arrived at Kaneohe Bay, which was the first time that he was there since that fateful Christmas Eve. But, he also stated that he was warmly embraced by the marines, who showed him around the base. During his tour, he even noticed WWII era craters that he hadn’t noticed as a youth. For more about Hugh’s story, please clink on the following link: https://www.tenaprofessionals.us/professionals/news-and-events/news-listing/wish-of-a-lifetime/hugh-mcnaughton-wish/

Serving Those Who Served Us

It’s now up to us to honor and remember the heroic acts of all those who served our country and, in many cases, altered the course of their lives for our benefit.

At Essity, many of our products are applicable to both active military personnel, as well as veterans who are in their latter stages of life. Whether it’s providing orthopedic soft goods and JOBST Compression products (https://www.bsnmedical.com/products/wound-care-vascular/category-product-search/compression-therapy.html) to active duty personnel via the Department of Defense, or wound care products, such as Cutimed Sorbact (https://www.bsnmedical.com/products/wound-care-vascular/category-product-search/advanced-wound-care/wound-bed-preparation/cutimedr-sorbactr.html) and TENA Incontinence products (https://tena-images.essity.com/images-c5/432/180432/original/tena-product-catalog-us-en.pdf) to the VA via the Med/Surg Prime Vendor 2.0 formulary and our SDVOSB (Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business) partners, it’s an honor to serve those who served us.

As we get busy with our daily lives, it’s easy to forget the sacrifices that many have made for our freedoms. But, as the motto of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors states, “Lest We Forget”.

Thank You!

From all of us at Essity HMS NA to all of our veterans, both active and retired, thank you for your service! We truly appreciate all that you have unselfishly sacrificed for us and for our country.

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Joe Kralik

National Key Account Director US HMS - Government

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Comments
Nancy Barringer
03 December 2020

Joe, I'm a little late commenting but I just want to say that this is a wonderful tribute to your family members that served in our military and it's also a great tribute to the best nation on earth, the United States of America. Thank you for this and thank you veterans everywhere! God bless America....

Linda Hagopian
15 November 2020

Beautiful Joe! What a great tribute.

Sue Lapp
11 November 2020

Joe, this was such a beautiful tribute to your father, Uncle Lew, you brother-in-law and cousins. You were right, the picture of your father and the other men who served in Pearl Harbor spoke volumes and no words were necessary. Thank you for this very touching, beautiful, and poignant tribute to your family and our veterans. Your dad is smiling down on you!

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Like many people today, I have had many forks in the road of my professional and educational journeys. I have two B.S. degrees, one in Industrial Safety Management and the other in eBusiness. I also have an MBA in Management and am an ordained deacon in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. Along the way, I was a Food Service Director, a Firefighter/EMT, and trained as an Air Traffic Controller.

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