Iowa Gold Star Museum Celebrates Iowa’s Impact on WWII

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JOHNSTON, Iowa — The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum will host a commemoration ceremony on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in honor of the 70th anniversary of the signing of the unconditional surrender by Japan, officially ending WWII.

“It’s important to understand what we as a nation went through and especially was Iowa contributed to war the war effort. We were apart of the sacrifice.”

The event will feature four guest speakers for the event tonight. “Really, excited about the speakers,” said Col. Greg Hapgood, Director of Public Affairs for Iowa Guard.

“They are from different background. You’ll hear their stories and what World War II meant to them.” Jim Vermeer, the son of Elmer Dutch Vermeer, a former Iowa state representative and U.S. Army Ranger who fought in Europe.

Jerry Yellin, who was a fighter pilot who fought in the Pacific theater. Ed Reed, whose uncle and cousin from eastern Iowa were fighter pilots in the European and China-Burma-India theaters. Wayne Brown, a Marshall County farmer who fought in multiple battles during the European campaign.

“We had more than 260,000 Iowans fight in WW2. There are not many of them left. It’s important we hear their stories before they are gone,” said Col. Hapgood.

“It’s important to make effort like these. We need to share about why WW II was so important and what implications it still has today.”

Hapgood said Iowa’s role is WW II is rich and deep. Over 8,000 Iowans died in the WWII and Hapgood hopes tonight’s event helps the community connect with these veterans.

“I hope they walk away with a deeper understanding about WW II. It’s important they have a renewed respect and admiration for those who fought,” said Hapgood.

Fast Facts on World War II
On Sunday, Sept. 2, 1945 more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Japan’s Tokyo Bay. As the flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the USS Missouri, just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed the peace treaty on behalf of the Japanese government, followed by Gen. Yoshijiro Umezu, who signed for the Japanese armed forces. MacArthur next signed on behalf of the Allied Powers as the Supreme Commander, Adm. Chester W. Nimitz signed the treaty for the United States, and representatives from all of the Allied nations signed the surrender document. As the 23-minute ceremony ended, the most devastating war in human history, costing more than 60 million lives, was over.