Phil Hodapp Jr. of Cleveland rarely misses out on local Veterans Days observances. During his 43 years as a member of an American Legion Color Guard, he has honored hundreds of deceased military veterans from the area.
This year, however, Hodapp will spend the holiday in Kansas City, Mo., at the National World War I Museum participating in a salute to his father and others who served in The War to End All Wars.
Hodapp and his wife, Shirley, will join several family members for a Walk of Honor program recognizing World War I veterans. Living History volunteers wearing historically authentic uniforms will present attendees with inscribed granite bricks. The pavers, including the one bearing the Hodapp name, will later be installed as part of a memorial near the museum's entrance.
Philip Hodapp Sr. was the recipient of two Silver Star citations for his actions during World War I. The veteran soldier did not receive much fanfare for his gallantry while he was alive.
“The first medal came in the mail,” Phil Jr. said.
He was back in the States for quite some time, was married and busy at work. His wife, Lillian (Quinn) had picked up the unexpected envelope at the post office on her way home from church. She put it in a pocket of her Sunday coat, where it stayed forgotten for about a week.
The medals were awarded in recognition of distinguished service while in the 20th Company, Fifth Regiment, Second Division, of the American Expeditionary Forces during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive in France. Hodapp had been a young private and a member of a brigade that fought at Belleou Woods.
“That battle stopped the Germans from getting Paris. It turned the tide (of the war),” Phil Jr. said.
Hodapp was part of a volunteer mission that took out a German machine gun nest during the battle. “Dad and I talked a little bit about it,” Phil Jr. said. “But he was not much of a talker and neither am I.”