The Greatest Generation Still Giving Back

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Veterans and Military Families
The World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., can be seen Feb. 8, 2011. The memorial is part of the National Park Service and is dedicated to all Americans who served during the Second World War. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. James B. Purschwitz/Released)

Among the milestone events that have marked our nation's history, World Word II is one everyone knows of but few remember. The heroes of that war, their shared sacrifice and their continued dedication, shows they truly are the greatest generation. Montana's Bernard Mulder, 89, is one of these heroes.

A pilot in World War II, he flew in the pivotal invasion of Normandy. After enlisting in the Army Air Corps (now known as the US Air Force) at age 18, Mulder went through significant training all over the country and deployed to North Africa.

In his C47 plane, Mulder carried 18 paratroopers, with 36 planes alongside him in each mission. In February, 1944, he was sent to England to practice drops with the paratroopers.

As June 5 approached, the planned date for D-Day, tensions were high as weather in the English Channel prevented them from attacking. On June 6, Mulder was part of the first full invasion, dropping paratroopers, now his friends, onto the beaches of Normandy. He knew many of them wouldn't survive.

Today, a lifetime after D-Day, Mulder is still serving. He is in his first year as a Foster Grandparent, where is he is better known as "Grandpa Bernard", at the Billings Community Day Care in Montana.

John Wolboldt shares a similar story. A fireman on the railroad around Youngstown, Ohio, Wolboldt was drafted for the Army in 1944. He worked on the railroads across Europe during World War II. In January 1945, Wolboldt found himself on the edge of the combat zone during the Battle of the Bulge, enduring daily bombings. The German forces came within 15 miles Wolboldt's location before they ran out of gas in their tanks.

Wolboldt, now 88, returned to Youngstown. After he retired as a mail carrier for the US Postal Service, Wolboldt became an RSVP volunteer and has served the greater Youngstown community through RSVP for more than 30 years.

As an RSVP volunteer, Wolboldt serves as an honor guard and chaplain in military funerals, serving fallen veterans and helping their families cope with tragedy. This year, he has served as an honor guard at more than 165 funerals.

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