WAYLAND — The American Bombshells and Southern Tier All Star Jazz Band brought immense joy to veterans and their loved ones on Dec. 10.
The Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day event is something that many look forward to every year at the Wayland American Legion.
American Bombshells Alexandra Palkovic, of Illinois, Carmen Mendoza, of Chicago, and Katie Hicks, of Rochester enjoyed being a part of the ceremony. Hicks has been an American Bombshell for seven years, Palkovic and Mendoza have been American Bombshells for a year.
Mendoza said they were booked by the legion to come, and it was a true honor to connect with the local veterans.
“We have several non-for-profit campaigns that help veterans transition back into the workforce,” she said. “We want to help them adjust back to the civilian life.”
Hicks said that she loves seeing the happiness they bring to the veterans, and that it touches her heart deeply.
“We like to take them to that beautiful place,” she said. “We sing music of that era, and it takes them back there.”
Palkovic mentioned that there are times the veterans will share their stories, and sometimes they just give them a hug.
“This is why we do it,” she said. “We do it to honor those have fought, and continue to fight for this country. We like to honor the heroes of our country.”
All three of the girls grew up in musical theater, and were drawn to the American Bombshells for the same reason; wanting to honor those who fight for our freedom.
“I wanted to use my voice to inspire people,” Hicks said. “The mission the American Bombshells has fits in line with what I wanted to do. This all started in 2011, and they continue to blossom.”
Palkovic said they work 12 of the nicest women you would ever want to know, and they have all become a family.
Hicks said that there is a process in the auditions that focuses on the passion and purpose you have for joining and connecting with veterans.
“I saw that American Bombshells was involved in giving back to our veterans,” Palkovic said. “I wanted to work with all of these girls.”
Mendoza is an actress and a performer who felt inspired by American Bombshells.
“I felt this was something I had to do. It has been a dream come true,” she said. “I wanted to find like minded people who could entertain, dance, and perform. This work has a purpose.”
Mendoza’s grandfather was a WWII veteran who passed when she was two weeks old, and she has since adopted hundreds of grandfathers in her travels.
“He was a great man, and it has been a true honor to honor his memory,” she said. “It really means alot to us to do what we do.”
Korean War and Vietnam War Veteran Walter Brewer had never been to one of these events before, but his neighbors wanted to bring him.
Brewer was in the end of the Korean War and did four tours in the Vietnam War. He served the U.S. Marine Corps. for 20 years.
“I couldn’t get a job out of high school, so I enlisted in the Marine Corps;” he said. “I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, and I was active the entire time.”
“A Marines main job was to be there for one another,” Brewer continued. “We had to help the other branches too. They didn’t separate us. We all weren’t fighting our own wars. It was one war and we were all in it together.”
Brewer mentioned how the American people didn’t like when they came home from the Vietnam War, and there were a lot of protesters in the streets.
“When I came home from the Korean War I was greeted by a lovely girl in the Marching Band,” he said. “When I came home from the Vietnam War they called me a baby killer.”
“We had a job to do,” Brewer concluded. “We were sent there by our President to be an ambassador for our country.”
Vietnam War Veteran Don Lowery, Walter’s neighbor, said he has been part of the Dansville American Legion for 50 years, but he likes coming to the Wayland American Legion events.
“We enjoy coming to these things,” he said. “It is nice to see everyone get together.”
Geneseo National Warplane Museum member Jamieson Steele brought his grandfather’s actual copy of the Pearl Harbor Day newspaper. It was neat to see that actual newspaper with the headline about that day.
Bevin Lynn, Southern Tier All Star Jazz Band member Chris Lynn’s wife was dressed in an authentic American Red Cross uniform.
“I met my husband (Chris) doing historical reenactment,” she said. “I have been doing this for 20 years. We used to only do Civil War, and now we do 1750s to 1950s reenactment.”
Lynn said she tries to make it to all of these events to support her husband and veterans.
Wayland American Legion Post Commander Kevin Mark said he hopes to have the American Bombshells back again in the future.
“We show that a small town comes together as a group,” he said. “We offer support to our past and future veterans. This is a very busy legion.”
For more information on the American Bombshells visit http://www.americanbombshells.com