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Manasquan veterans reflect on their service and thank others

BY Lauren Wanko, Correspondent |

At the Manasquan VFW Post 1838, veterans hand write notes to their fellow veterans.

“I think every veteran deserves a thank you and welcome home,” said Junior Vice Commander Sean Gleason.

Manasquan VFW Post 1838 chief of staff Winfield J. Atno has a message to service members defending our country today.

“Keep up the good work and don’t listen to anyone in this country who tries to tear you down,” he said.

Their stories are all a bit different, yet these men are connected by their service and patriotism. Gleason served in the Army, Army Reserve and National Guard.

“It was just something I knew I was going to do,” Gleason said. “It’s important to be selfless and I think that’s important in all aspects of life today — to subjugate your own personal needs for the needs of others, for your community.”

What motivated Atno to join?

“Love of country, love of country. I was brought up carrying the American flag. My father was in parades and I watched every one of them,” he said.

Atno served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

“They call my war the forgotten war. I kid around here we never had a parade, never got a dinner, but as it turned out, I got all the respect that I needed in my life just having been,” said Atno.

Navy vet Joseph Madia fought in the Vietnam War. He says Veterans Day is a time to thank not only veterans.

“We have to remember our civilians back home who worked in the defense plants in World War II, factories who built parts for use by the military,” Madia said. “Without those civilians our efforts would have been in vain.”

For these men, the VFW has become a second home of sorts.

“We’re all about the same whether you went to war, or didn’t go to war. If you wore the uniform we’re all members of the same club,” Atno said. “We’re comrades, comrades in arms, and we understand each other.”

The Manasaquan VFW post 1838 has about 300 members from the town and surrounding communities in southern Monmouth County. The members here are constantly fundraising to help their fellow veterans and to improve aspects of this building and grounds to support current member and encourage future veterans to join.

By late morning, the thank you notes were all written.

Knowing what he knows now, what would Atno say to his younger self?

“Good deal. You did the right thing,” he said.