JOHNSTON, Iowa -- The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum hosted a commemoration ceremony Wednesday night in honor of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the unconditional surrender by Japan, which officially ended WWII. The museum, located on Camp Dodge in Johnston, featured four guest speakers; Jim Vermeer, Jerry Yellin, Ed Reed, and Wayne Brown.
Jim Vermeer is the son of Elmer "Dutch" Vermeer, a former Iowa state representative and U.S. Army Ranger who fought in Europe. Elmer Vermeer served four and-a-half years with the U.S. Army's 2nd Ranger Infantry Battalion, V Corps, in the European Theater of Operations. Elmer was an engineer from Pella who scaled the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc, France to destroy an enemy gun emplacement as part of the D-Day invasion in June 1944.
Jerry Yellin is a fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific theater. He's now 91 years-old, but in WWII, the Fairfield resident fought in the Pacific and at Iowa Jima with the 78th Fighter Squadron as a P-51 "Mustang" fighter pilot. Yellin went on to fly 19 missions over Japan, including the last combat mission there during WWII. Yellin is the author of four books and is the national spokesperson for the "Spirit of '45 Day."
Ed Reed is a Marion native who now lives in Omaha. Reed talked about the service of his uncle, William "Bill" N. Reed, and cousin, William R. "Dick" Reed, both of whom are from Marion and flew P-40 Tomahawk fighter aircraft during WWII. The eastern Iowa natives were fighter pilots in the European and China-Burma-India theaters.
Wayne Brown of Marshalltown is now 92 years old. In WWII, the Marshall County farmer was an infantryman during the European campaign and fought during the Normandy invasion, the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and other engagements during the war.