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Ken Reed, who served in the Army’s 99th Infantry Division during World War II, remembers being in Belgium in the winter of 1944 during the infamous Battle of the Bulge, when German troops made a last-ditch effort to drive the Allies back.

“There was three feet of snow on the ground,” Reed recalled. “Every man who suffered that blasted cold deserves a medal.”

Reed was one of five World War II veterans who shared some of their wartime experiences during a Memorial Day service honoring the country’s war veterans. The event was held at the Veterans Gateway at the Washington County Fair Complex.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - An honor guard comprised of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2666 in Hillsboro fires volleys in a 21-gun salute to those who perished while in service in the nations military.

The service, sponsored by Washington County, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars, drew about 150 citizens, dignitaries and veterans who turned out to pay respects to those who died while in service to the nation.

Hillsboro Mayor Jerry Willey, one of the guest speakers, said no one should ever forget the sacrifices made by the nation’s veterans.

“For them, freedom was definitely not free,” Willey said in his remarks to the crowd that gathered under a large tent for protection from intermittent rain. “They paid the price of freedom by giving their lives for their country.”

U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici offered a tribute to the families that lost loved ones to war.

“Many understand all too well the gravity of that loss,” Bonamici said. “Parents lost children. Children lost parents. Those families understand the real costs of freedom, and they are in need of our love and support. For those who paid the ultimate price, let us cherish the freedoms they died protecting.”

World War II veteran Eldon Cedergreen said he was 19 when he joined the Marines in March 1944. He later was part of an invasion force headed to the island of Okinawa.

“That was some of the worst fighting of the war,” said Cedergreeen, who had been living on a farm south of Forest Grove before joining the Marines. “We’d take a hill in the day and they’d retake it at night. The Japanese were excellent at night fighting.”

Around that time, however, atomic bombs were dropped on two Japanese cities, ending the war.

“I think of this young fellow running through the tents,” said Cedergreen. “He’d heard Japan had surrendered and he was waking up the whole camp. You can imagine the celebration we had; knowing we’d made it through.”

Cedergreen was overcome with emotion when he told the crowd about his feelings upon heading for home.

“One of the happiest moments of my life was when I was on our ship heading out to sea, pointed eastward in that vast ocean, knowing we were going home,” he recalled. “They told us it would take 17 days, but we didn’t care. We were going home.”

Toward the end of the ceremony, veterans took turns reading the names of 137 Washington County veterans who died during World War II.

Other highlights of the program, led by Commander Doug Lund of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2666 in Hillsboro, included a ceremony honoring prisoners of war, a 21-gun salute and a bugler playing “Taps” for the fallen.

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