June 1, 2016 – Each Memorial Day the President of the United States invites Gold Star families and other special interest groups to the Washington, D.C. to honor them for the sacrifice their family members made to protect our country. This year, Carroll Lutheran Village resident Sondra Sarles was invited to attend.
Sarles is a member of the group American War Orphans Network, which represents children of fathers who were killed in WWII. Sarles’ father was Lt. Col. George Sarles, commanding officer of the VMG 611 Bomber Squadron. He and four of his crew were killed during a bombing mission on May 30, 1945 while helping to liberate the Philippines from the Japanese. Sondra was just five-months old.
The day started with an elegant buffet breakfast at the White House for the nearly 175 in attendance. Afterwards, attendees had the opportunity to meet President Barrack Obama and have their photos taken with him.
After breakfast the group was taken by charter bus with police escort to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where they witnessed the President lay a wreath at the Tomb. They were then provided preferred seating in the Colonnade of the Amphitheater on the other side of the Tomb to hear the President’s annual Memorial Day speech.
In his speech, the President spoke of Joshua Wheeler, a father of four who was killed in October 2015 while helping 20 hostages escape in Iraq. “Joshua’s wife, mother and ten-month old son were sitting next to us,” said Sondra. “They were given a standing ovation and there was not a dry eye in the group.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the American Orphans Network or who has knowledge of the VMG 611 Bomber Squadron is welcome to contact Sondra at 443-519-6178.