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Fourth of July activities on tap at Turner’s Pond

by Minden Press-Herald

Two people will be honored posthumously at Turner’s Pond Monday during a flag changing ceremony and service.

Beginning at 6 p.m., The American Legion Wiley-Pevy Post #74 Color Guard will change the U.S. flag and all military service flags. Flying over Turner’s Pond are flags that represent each branch of military service: the Army, the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines and the Coast Guard.

This year’s service will be a little different where one name will be placed on the Wall of Honor and another will be recognized with a memorial marker. Jerry Madden, incoming Color Guard commander, says George Calvit will have his name placed on the Wall of Honor, and Leo Elshout will be remembered with a memorial marker.

“We can’t put Leo on the wall because he was not an American citizen but he was a member of the Holland Royal Army,” he said.

Fred Elzen Jr. will conduct a presentation on Calvit, because he knew him, Madden said. Calvit, a Marine, did two tours in the South Pacific during WWII, and when they landed on Iwo Jima, the first night, they lost half their platoon, he said.

“He was wounded twice by shrapnel,” he said. “Medics patched him up, and he went right back into the fight.”

Madden says his platoon had a 37 millimeter tank and were trying to knock out enemy “pillboxes,” areas built to shelter them from incoming fire.

“They had to have somebody outside the tank connected to a phone to tell somebody where to fire,” he said. “George was standing outside the tank, firing tracer bullets into the area where the pillboxes were so they would know where the enemy was. When they saw the tracer bullets coming out of his weapon, the enemy sprayed the tank with machine gun fire.”

Calvit was hit in the right shoulder, went right through his lungs and broke three ribs. He was home in Minden when the first atomic bomb was deployed. By the time the atomic bomb was deployed in Japan, he was in Pennsylvania.

“He was asked at the time if he thought they should have bombed Japan, and he said, ‘Yes,’ because of all the people that had been blown up and killed on both sides,” he said. “He said it was time for it to stop.”

He received four purple hearts and a Silver Star for his bravery. Calvit died in 2009.

While Elshout was not a member of the service or an American citizen at the time, he helped Allied Forces by sheltering them from the Germans. From Holland, Madden explained that Elshout helped hide some 90 British and American troops during Operation Market Garden.

Operation Market Garden was an Allied attempt to use British, American and Polish paratroopers to capture three strategic bridges in Holland, which would give access to Germany across the Rhine and other rivers. The operation was the subject of the book and movie, “A Bridge Too Far.”

One of the American soldiers Elshout helped hide was Tinsley Connell of Minden. That is how he got to the United States.

“He saved a lot of Americans by smuggling them out of the country at the risk of his own life,” Rod Gann, Color Guard member, said. “It’s quite a story. He was a civilian hero.”

Another special speaker will be Louisiana National Guard Sgt. James Elledge.

He’s done two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is the husband of Joshua Madden’s widow, Dani. Dani was married to the late Joshua Madden, and they have one son together, Jackson.

Following the presentation, at dark, Fireworks on the Pond will begin.

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