A Maumee accounting firm’s generosity will ensure more veterans have an opportunity to visit the nation’s war memorials in Washington.
Gilmore Jasion Mahler LTD gave a generous holiday gift of $123,800 to Flag City Honor Flight in Findlay after a wildly successful November fund-raiser.
WWII veteran George Snyder Jr., of Maumee, is in a picture, center, with Ernest Cole, whom he was captured and taken prisoner with while on a search patrol in Terricina and Pontsene in Italy in 1944. The two soldiers were POWs but escaped together after 28 days in captivity.
“We certainly love our veterans and want to honor them and show our appreciation,” managing partner Kevin Gilmore said. “Everybody knows a veteran, and we are very thankful for all they do.”
The event was the firm’s second “carnevale-themed” fund-raiser. The first raised more than $42,000, for the Findlay group last year.
“We went down and opened up a Findlay office about four years ago,” Mr. Gilmore said. “Last year, we wanted to do something to really show we were part of the community and decided to put on the big fund-raising event. We decided this was an organization that could really use the funds.”
Deb Wickerham, executive director of Flag City Honor Flight, said the group’s trips to the nation’s capital cost about $90,000 for flights and $25,000 for bus trips with 78 to 85 veterans on each trip.
“We are always full,” she said. “We have about five or six on our list so far for World War II [veterans] for June, but we have quite a few Korean [War veterans] and over 200 Vietnam [War veterans] waiting. ... We never turn down a veteran because they don’t live in our area. If they can get here, we’ll take them.”
The firm’s donation along with other regular donors means the organization can plan comfortably for two flights and a bus trip in 2018, Mrs. Wickerham said.
“They blew our budget out of the water,” she said. “We’re very appreciative for the generosity of GJM.”
George Snyder, Jr., of Maumee, 95, served from 1942 to 1945 in the U.S. Army as a gunner in the 377th Infantry Regiment, 85th Infantry Division, Company G, participating in three large battles in Italy during World War II. He also spent 28 days as a prisoner of war. He was on the organization’s last trip in September.
“That was the most wonderful trip I ever had,” he said. “Flag City, they can’t be thanked enough for that. I really enjoyed it. It was super, super duper. Out of this world.”
He said each veteran was partnered with someone who tended to their needs. Veterans were not allowed to walk and instead were pushed in wheelchairs to save their energy. The buses on the trip were escorted around the city by police, and the group had its own tour guides to tell veterans about the memorials and answer any questions.
Mr. Snyder’s group visited the memorials for WWII, Vietnam War, Korean War, and the U.S. Air Force, as well as Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The itinerary made for a full day-trip, but Mr. Snyder said he loved every minute.
“It was all just wonderful,” he said. “I was flabbergasted and just so pleased.”
Mr. Gilmore said no one at the firm anticipated this year’s event would be so successful. The goal of $50,000 was quickly attained and left in the dust.
“It was astounding,” he said. “We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and delighted we can be part of the community and even more delighted to show our appreciation to veterans.”
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