SCARSDALE, N.Y. Ted Gaskin wasn't about to let a fall keep him from taking part in Friday morning's Veterans Day celebration at Boniface Circle in Scarsdale. The 88-year-old World War II veteran and American Legion Post 52 fire and police chaplain sat on a bench chatting and awaiting the start of the program.
"I'm 100 percent disabled," he said. "I was at Guadalcanal in '42, and we were going up the Solomon Islands, walking single file, and the guy in front stepped on a land mine. It killed the first five guys in the line, and I was in the last three."
Gaskin said he fell 300 feet after the blast and woke up on a hospital ship off Iwo Jima.
"There were 912 of us," he said. "We had an 85 percent casualty rate."
Hundreds, he said, lost hands and arms.
"They were all 17, 18, 19 years old. Not like you see in the movies," he said. "There are only six of us left."
The veteran told a story about some young servicemen who went to the chaplain after tank fire opened up.
"One them said, 'Our parents told us it was a sin to kill." The chaplain, Gaskin said, responded by saying those people had sent 200 of our people to the bottom of the sea at Pearl Harbor. He said what they were doing was meant not to kill people, but to stop the killing.
Gaskin displayed a printed sheet with the names of his comrades who have died.
"I always keep this with me," he said.
Gaskin gave the invocation and benediction at the ceremony, then headed for the hospital to get checked out because of his fall.
A small gathering watched as Legion Commander Thomas Adamo supervised a program that included remarks by Mayor Miriam Levitt-Flisser and a wreath presentation by Jean Goreson and her granddaughters, Rita and Teresa Huffmeister, in honor of her husband, the recently deceased veteran George R. Goreson.
Flisser, who was smuggled out of Germany as a baby in the later days of the war, said "We stagger under the eternal debt" we owe to the veterans who have fought and continue to fight in defense of the United States.
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