WSPA-TV Interviews Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas Volunteers

WSPA-TV from Spartanburg took the opportunity to honor veterans during day one of Brevard’s White Squirrel Weekend. United States Air Force Veterans Art Cole, Ed Cottrell, and Jim Schenfield were introduced on camera by museum volunteer Mike McCarthy. All are volunteers at the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas: Cole and Schenfield are Pathfinders; Cottrell is Honorary Board Member.

As they gathered for the TV camera, the three were asked what Americans should be thinking of this Memorial Day. USAF Vietnam veteran Jim Schenfield said, “The 81,900 service members who haven’t been found or accounted for. 

usaf veterans

USAF veterans (from left) Art Cole, Ed Cottrell, Jim Schenfield

Since World War II up to the present, this is the number who didn’t come home. We don’t know what happened to them. We should be grateful for their sacrifice and thinking of their families. It’s tempting to just look at our next-door neighbors and thank them for their service if they are veterans, but on Memorial Day, let’s think of those we can’t talk to.

(The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency [Department of Defense] reported in May 2020 that of the 81,900 Americans still considered MIA: 72,598 were from World War II, 7,580 from the Korean War, 1,587 from Vietnam, 126 from the Cold War, and six from conflicts since 1991.)

Schenfield said, “All year long, it’s a good thing when people do recognize or thank our living veterans, but there’s a more meaningful way to do it than just a quick “Thank you for your service” in passing. Perhaps take a moment, ask the veteran his or her name. Ask which branch and when he or she served. Learn a little about the person. No need to ask, ‘What did you do?’ because all jobs are important. ‘Thank you for your service,’ unfortunately, has become sort of a cliché. We can honor veterans more sincerely by learning a minute’s worth of information about them as individuals.”

WWII P-47 pilot Col. Ed Cottrell, USAF (Ret.) said, “I lost one of my roommates during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944, 2nd Lt. Art Sommers. He got shot down. I didn’t see him go down, but he didn’t come back from the mission. We found out later that they found his plane and he had been killed.” Cottrell was able to visit Sommers’ burial place in an American Cemetery in the Netherlands in 2022, 77 years after his friend died. At age 100, Cottrell kneeled at Sommers’ grave, the first time he had known for sure where his friend died and was buried.

Col. Arthur Cole, USAF (Ret.) said, “It’s also about the hundreds of men and women I flew with over the course of my 25 years. Their ups and downs. Their trip-ups and their successes. Their dreams. I got to be a small part of it all. And I’ll never forget the one thing they had in common—a brotherhood of the air. And all had pride in themselves, their units, and the greatness of America. Over the course of every war our men and women are sent by those who never served. But they stay the course, trust in each other, and do what they were sent to do.”

Though each American finds his or her own way to honor our fallen, we can learn from those who served beside them like these three men.

We honor those who defended and defend our freedom every day of the year at the Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas. Please visit the museum to learn their stories.

To honor your family member who served or is serving, the museum offers permanent Honor Wall Plaques. For information please drop by, call 828-884-2141.


Top Photo: WSPA-TV honors veterans for Memorial Day. L-R, Art Cole, Ed Cottrell, JIm Schenfield, introduced by museum volunteer Mike McCarthy