Eight members of the Indiana National Guard flew up from their headquarters at Stout Army Air Field in Indianapolis in a Blackhawk helicopter to honor Veteran and Warsaw Rotary Member 94-year old Bob Gast.
The Blackhawk landed at the Kosciusko County Fairgrounds and an awards ceremony took place shortly after at the Shrine Building.
Gast earned the Silver Star award for his service while leading his platoon on an attack of a German machine gun nest during World War II, but never actually received the physcial award. The paperwork for him to receive the medal was thought to be lost in a fire in St. Louis Missouri after the war.
Fellow Rotarian Todd Townsend organized the awards ceremony after bonding with Gast over their military time. Townsend describes Gast as, “one of the most humble, unassuming men you have ever met.”
Congressman Marlin Stutzman, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and Major General Courtney Carr all spoke about Gast, including several mentions of his humble character.
Gast had several family members present, including his grandson Trent Gast who also spoke fondly of his grandfather, “I never really had a father and am very grateful to have him. He would tell me WWII stories at bedtime when I was kid. If I ever needed clarity, I would go to him.”
Major General Carr presented Gast with not only the Silver Star award, but also a Bronze Star, European African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge and an Honorable Service Lapel button for his service in World War II.
The Silver Star is the third highest award for valor in the United States.
Gast spoke briefly at the ceremony, mentioning the famous quote by General Douglas MacArthur, “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away,” and reflected on his time during the war. “This is not about me deep down, more about my generation and the millions and millions of soldiers that served in the war and the few that survived like me that are fading away,” Gast said.