Letter: The Hastings 5 are a story worth learning about
To the editor:
On June 9, 2018, the meeting room at the American Legion Post 47 was dedicated and named The Hastings 5 Gold Room in honor of the five Hastings men that were members of the First Special Service Force. These men went to defend this great country in World War II. Their names are familiar to most people in Hastings:
S/Sgt. John Hankes, Tech-4 Francis Brooke, Tech-4 Dale Hamilton, Tech-4 George Hild and 2nd Lt. James Moore who was killed in action.
Many books have been written about this elite fighting force and are still available. There is also a great movie called "The Devil's Brigade," which tells the story of combining the soldiers of the United States and Canada into a single fighting force of 1,900 men. Watch this movie if you can.
I was approached by Jim Johnson and asked if the American Legion would be interested in being the caretakers of these irreplaceable one-of-a-kind historical mementos to John Hankes and the FSSF. That was the moment that the Hastings 5 project was born.
Jim accompanied John to Washington, D.C., to receive the Congressional Gold Medal and all additional honors and mementos bestowed upon John for his service.
John and the FSSF were also honored by Norway and given a medal and plaques for helping to free that country from the Nazis.
All these medals, plaques, pictures and other mementos are now on display at the American Legion. Everyone is welcome to come down to see them and read about the FSSF and what they did during WWII. They never lost a battle.
The population of Hastings in 1941 was 5,200 and to have five men as members of the FSSF was incredible. No other community of our size can boast that.
This is a Hastings story that is long overdue and should have been told many years ago. The Hastings five have made us all proud of the sacrifices they made while protecting our country.
My thanks to the Hastings 5 families, Cmdr. Jim Lehmann, past Cmdr. Paul Fletcher, the VFW, the Hastings Veterans Home and all other organizations and people that contributed to make this event a wonderful success. Several people have expressed that they would like to see the celebration of the Hastings 5 become an annual event.