We are forever indebted to the courageous and heroic service of our Nation’s brave veterans, who have protected and defended the freedoms you and I enjoy each and every day. As we approach the opening of Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery, it is a privilege to present to you the lives
of four real American patriots.
Alfonso F. “Al” Twentyfive – June 1, 1924 to December 15, 2010
On a tiny mountainous island in the Pacific Ocean, one of World War II’s most brutal and pivotal battles erupted after two arduous months of air bombings and stealth attacks. For 35 days throughout February and March of 1945, over 70,000 U.S. troops launched a massive invasion of the Island of Iwo Jima, a critical stronghold for the Empire of Japan. When it was over, nearly 7,000 were killed and more than 19,000 were wounded capturing the island. This tremendous show of courage and sacrifice represents one of the most defining moments in World War II and set the tone for the rest of the war, restoring hope in to the heart of each American citizen.
One cannot fathom the tremendous amount of strength and bravery it took those heroic men to take those first fateful steps onto the beaches of Iwo Jima back on February 19, 1945.
Alfonso F. Twentyfive of Wolcott, New York, was one of those men. On that historic day, Al was one of the many U.S. Marines who risked his life to turn the tide of the war in one of mankind’s darkest hours. Words cannot express the amount of gratitude and appreciation owed to Alfonso F.
Twentyfive and his fellow soldiers.
After the war, Al returned home to Wolcott, where he raised two daughters with his loving wife of 58 years, Barbara, while working as an operating engineer. He continued to give back to his community as a member of the Wolcott Elks Lodge.
The personal trials and tribulations of each veteran who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima may never be fully known. However, we have the distinct privilege of recognizing and appreciating one of the many men who risked everything for our freedoms. It is with great respect and admiration that we recognize and memorialize the life of a true National hero, Corporal Alfonso F. Twentyfive.
Eska “Eskie” Shaff – June 26, 1932 to June 10, 2010
It is often said that a true hero is not defined by his actions, but his intentions. When a man enlists into the military, he does not know what may become of him. He does not know if he will see his family again, or his friends, or his hometown. There are so many dangers involved that most men do not take that risk, no matter how badly their country needs them. Few people are willing to risk their lives for a greater good.
Eska Shaff, known as “Eskie” to his friends and family, was one of the men who was willing to take that risk. In 1952, as our Nation was becoming more and more entangled in the Korean Conflict, Eskie packed his things, said goodbye to his mother and father, and left to serve in the United States Army. After completing his basic training and serving on a base in Breckenridge, Kentucky, he was flown to Alaska, where he departed on a ship for Korea.
Eskie often spoke fondly of his service, and was honored to have an opportunity to protect and preserve our American freedoms. In June of 2000, the 50th anniversary of the start of the conflict, he was awarded the Korean War Service Medal. In May of 2011, after Eskie had passed away, his wife Charlotte received a certificate signed by the President of the United States honoring his memory and service to our Nation.
People who knew Eskie knew him as a man who could juggle multiple titles and tasks at once. He was truly a jack-of-all-trades, fixing cars and refurbishing the family home when he wasn’t working as a therapy aide at Willard Psychiatric Center. Eskie also loved spending time with his wife
and three children. The family took many vacations together, traveling across the U.S. and Canada to visit relatives or go camping. After Eskie retired, he and Charlotte continued to travel, seeing as much of the Country as they could. Everywhere he went, Eskie was generous and helpful,
always willing to lend a hand.
In addition to all of these roles, Eskie was also a great American patriot. His willingness to put our Nation’s needs before his own exemplifies heroism. A man is not a hero for what he does, but for what he would do. When our country needed him, Eska Shaff was there.
Manley Edward House – April 19, 1924 to February 15, 1981
“Service above self.” This is the code the Manley House lived by. Each and every day, he was sure to make the most of his life and devoted himself to bettering both our Nation and community.
The House family has a history of service in our community. For over 200 years, the Houses have lived in Central New York and contributed a legacy of service and involvement to our region. It is believed that a distant relative even served our Nation as far back as the French and Indian War.
Corporal Manley Edward House served in the United States Merchant Marines in both World War II and the Korean Conflict. Manley placed his life in danger not for one war, but two, all to protect and preserve our American freedoms. Many of his medals and awards have been lost to time. It is
certain, however, that Manley made great use of the skills he learned in the military after his service.
After serving overseas with great honor and pride, Manley became very involved with his community. Utilizing his talents, he was instrumental in building schools, campuses, roads, libraries, and many other buildings throughout Central New York. His projects include Cornell University, Ithaca College, Wells College, Route 31, Route 224, and Route 17 in Corning. Nearly everyone in our region has probably used a building or road that Manley House helped create.
Manley will be laid to rest at the Sampson Veterans Memorial Cemetery alongside his wife Esca House, who also contributed immensely to our region. She was the driving force behind the Spencer-Van Etten Central School system merger, as well as the creation of a new Junior/Senior High School building.
Both Manley and Esca committed themselves to turning Central New York into the wonderful place to live that we know today. We are all truly fortunate to have had the House family as neighbors for so many years. Their impact on our lives will never be forgotten.
William Frederick Lowery, Jr. -March 17, 1937 to December 22, 2009
In 1958, just as our Nation entered the conflict that would escalate into the Vietnam War, William Frederick Lowery, Jr. enlisted in the United States Air Force, willingly sacrificing life as he knew it to protect and serve the American people.
While in the Air Force, William served in a number of different positions to support American efforts in Vietnam. He travelled throughout the country, serving in California for a several years as an Administrative Supervisor and Vocational Advisor.
William was later deployed to Wiesbaden, Germany, where he attained the rank of Staff Sergeant, overseeing several men and ensuring all operations ran smoothly and efficiently. For the men stationed in Germany during the Cold War, the threat of a Soviet attack loomed large. The preparedness and bravery of men like William were crucial in keeping our country safe and
secure during this difficult time. In 1970, William was honorably discharged after over 11 years of faithful and diligent service to our Nation.
On May 16, 1958, at the age of 19, William Frederick Lowery, Jr. made a choice. A choice to leave behind his friends and family. A choice to put the safety of our Nation and the lives of others above his own. When William enlisted, he did not know where he would go, or what he would do, or what would happen to him. In many ways, a man is not a hero for what he knows or does, but for what he is willing to risk for a greater good. A hero overcomes his own personal apprehensions to preserve ideals and values larger than himself.
Today, we honor the life of William Frederick Lowery, Jr., a true American hero.