CAMANCHE — Those attending Camanche’s Memorial Day ceremony on Monday will not be able to miss Sam McKenrick, 91, of Clinton. This veteran will recite Johnny Cash’s “This Ragged Old Flag” by heart.
A long-time member of the Camanche Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sam said he had a small part in creating Rose Hill Cemetery where the event is held. It gives him a sense of pride to be in that place. Sam feels that Memorial Day is important to remind people of who came before them.
“I think people are too prone to forget things that are that important,” Sam said.
Sam and his wife, Evelyn, were both born and raised in Camanche. In 1942, he joined the Marine Corp after two of his friends asked him to drive them to the Quad-Cities so they could join up. His friends could not join for medical reasons. However, Sam did join. He went to boot camp on Dec. 9, 1942, in San Diego.
Sam remembers spending his 21st birthday going overseas. He was very sea-sick. He spent the next three years at various islands in the Pacific, serving in the motor transport division.
“It was good and bad,” Sam said.
He added that sometimes serving was exciting. At other times, it was boring.
“Everyone was pulling for one thing: The day we went home,” Sam said.
While on the island of Palmyra, Sam was badly burned in a gas fire and was sent to Hawaii to heal. He was made a colonel’s orderly. He said that was a good experience.
Sam was in Okinawa when the war ended. He was shipped to Guam and then was taken from Guam to Hawaii on the “Missouri” battleship. It was a long journey.
“But you didn’t mind because you were headed in the right direction,” Sam said.
After leaving the service, Sam worked as an automobile mechanic before going to work for Alcoa as a maintenance mechanic in 1950. He retired from the company in 1983.
Throughout the years, Sam has been active in the Camanche VFW and the Masonic Lodge. Chuck Duax, master of ceremonies for this year’s Memorial Day ceremony, said Sam is a great person who does a great job with “This Ragged Old Flag.” Sam always liked this song, but said he cannot sing. Instead he recites it.
The service will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at Rose Hill Cemetery. In the event of rain, it will be moved to the Camanche High School gymnasium.