Patriotic tradition runs deep across all of our Consulate Health Care centers and we’re proud to take part in honoring those who have tirelessly served the United States of America. Not only have they been protectors of our nation, they have played a significant role in the way we live today. As Veterans Day approaches, we would like to recognize and share the stories of six World War II veterans who have positively impacted employees and residents alike at Consulate Health Care of Brandon in Brandon, FL.
One of the residents at Consulate Health Care of Brandon we would like to honor is Albert Rimes, U.S. Army Ammunition Corporal. Albert spent a majority of his time in Europe during the war and fought in the Battle of the Bulge where he skillfully operated a weapon that shot 90 pound shells over 15 miles and scouted into enemy territory. He slept in trenches and ditches, huddled together with his band of brothers just to stay warm in the winter months. He describes being so close to the Germans that he could reach out and touch their feet. Albert said they were issued one uniform, no winter gear and hardly ever slept. In spite of his numerous near-death experiences, Albert describes himself as “lucky.”
“During the battle of the Bulge, we didn’t have time to be scared, even when we were retreating and leaving everything behind. We left our trucks, weapons, all of it! Then Patton came with a tank division and air support, we got all of our trucks, tanks and everything back,” he recalled.
Another Consulate Health Care of Brandon resident and veteran Jerry Ingram, a member of the U.S. Air Force 20th Aviation Guard Team, was stationed in Asia during World War II. He was part of a team that supplied gas, food, and other supplies to the troops. His team stocked and flew C-46 planes over the Himalayas, where the temperature would dip below zero, to drop parachutes of supplies to ally troops in need. It was truly amazing how he and his team managed to navigate such inhospitable landscapes; their efforts saved countless lives.
Another resident and veteran of our care center helped to rebuild a city while stationed abroad during WWII. John Barclay, a member of the U.S. Army Corporal/MP. European Theatre, was stationed in Austria during the war and has fond memories of the country. “Once I got to Austria, I took a look around and the place took my breath away. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen”, he recalls. He also remembers rebuilding a broken city in Austria while he was there and felt a strong calling to help those people.
During our recognition of the veterans at Consulate Health Care of Brandon, we would also like to take a moment to honor those who are no longer with us. Two of our veterans who served our country, Robert Petee and Alex Gibbs, stayed with us until they passed this year. When Petee was 17 years old, he said he knew he belonged in the Navy. An Admiral of the U.S. Navy Three Stripes, he wanted to sign up the moment he saw the Uncle Sam poster, “We Want You!” Petee was stationed on several different ships and went to England, Spain, Italy, France and later to the Philippines, Japan, and even Korea! He even remembered meeting General Macarthur, the larger-than-life WWII General, who smoked a corn cob pipe.
Alex Gibbs, a member of the Quartermaster Core – the U.S. Army’s oldest logistics branch – was a resident of our care center until this past April. He spent a total of 20 years and four months in service with the Army and Air Force. Upon finishing his station in Panama as an infantry foot soldier for two years, Alex quickly signed up for another three years of service. This time, it was for the Quartermaster Core. Alex regularly and proudly recalled the hard work that went into defending his nation. We remember both Robert and Alex fondly and are proud to talk about of their honorable service.
One thing rings true in each of these stories, these residents of Consulate Health Care of Brandon are our heroes. Each of these featured residents sacrificed something to protect our freedom during one of the deadliest conflicts in human history. Thank you all for your time and service to our country; Consulate Health Care is proud to care for our nation’s veterans!