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Gratitude Charlottesville is honored to jointly recognize five surviving World War II veterans as our July Friend of Freedom (FOF) award winners.   On July 2nd at a special ceremony at Commonwealth Assisted Living Center Charles Oliver USN, Frank James USAF, Charles Kaut US Army, Ted Placzkouski US Army and Dick Rowe US Army, all residents of Commonwealth received a military service pin and special Freedom Fund Challenge Coin from Captain (retired) Tom Freshwater, Executive Director of Gratitude Cville.

Our five honorees are members of what long time TV news anchorman Tom Brokaw referred to as “The Greatest Generation”.  They are America’s citizen heroes who came of age during the Great Depression, served during the Second World War, and then went on to build modern America. When the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 made it irrefutably clear that America was not a fortress, this generation was summoned to the parade ground and told to train for war.  Unselfishly they left their homes, their jobs, they quit school and went directly into uniform.

Our award winners answered the call to help save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled, Germany and Japan.  Those who participated in WWII, including our July FOF honorees faced great odds, but they did not protest. At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were serving their nation in the Army, Air Force and Navy. They were selfless. They were called to duty, they came and performed heroically.

The great contributions of those who served during WWII did not end when the war concluded after VE Day (Victory Europe) and VJ Day (Victory over Japan) Days.  When the war was over, they joined in joyous and short-lived celebrations, then immediately began the task of rebuilding their lives and the world they wanted. They stayed true to their values of personal responsibility, duty, honor and faith. These five men we honor as our Friend of Freedom winners for July truly are the Greatest Generation given their outstanding contributions to our nation. There are less than 300,000 surviving veterans of the more than 16 million that served during WWII.  Honoring these five special men is a unique honor and privilege for Gratitude Charlottesville.

Each month, “The Freedom Fund”  Board of Directors will choose a FOF award winner to be featured on  Winners will get a trophy and sometimes a monetary award.  To nominate person or organization that promotes and protects freedom in our community, email us at

Dan Smith
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