For the majority of Americans, Memorial Day is the signal of the coming summer, and a reminder to give thanks to the men and women throughout history who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. However, for World War II veterans Mark Clement and Jack Puryear, both residents of Querencia at Barton Creek – a retirement community – Memorial Day is a time to remember the men they served alongside, especially those who never made the return trip home. While time can erode the lesser details of war, the heart remembers the comradery shared between the two veterans and their fellow servicemen and the images of war that are never forgotten.
As veterans of World War II, Clement and Puryear played roles in the moments of American history that still define our country today. Puryear spent the majority of his service as an aerial photographer for the U.S. Navy. He helped make pre-invasion maps of the South Pacific islands that made it possible for others, like Clement, to serve on the ground. Clement served as a second lieutenant in the fourth Marine Corp division in the eighth wave landing force on D-Day at Iwo Jima. He had his 20th birthday the next day! Puryear and Clement both served in Iwo Jima on D-Day without ever knowing of the other. However, it wouldn’t be until moving into Querencia that the two veterans would meet and discover this twist of fate. They have become great friends and even had the pleasure of traveling to Washington D.C. together as part of the honor flight program. Both men left home as boys and returned home as men, having witnessed the unimaginable facets of war. It is the sacrifices of the men with whom they served with that they wish to observe on Memorial Day. They share a hope that we will never forget the price that has been paid for our freedom, and never take such a gift for granted.