On Saturday, April 27, during the 148th NRA Annual Meetings, Winchester Ammunition and the Indy Honor Flight paid tribute five distinguished veterans who courageously served the United States in World War II.
‘The event’ started in the main hall of the Indiana Convention Center. In grand fashion, three members of the Circle City Bucket Drummers ripped into sharp beats, leading the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Honor Guard, the veterans and their guardian angels, on an epic march.
Show attendees of all ages and backgrounds lined both sides of the procession. Handshakes. Hugs. Salutes. Cheers. The veteran’s received well-deserved respect, making their way to the Winchester Ammunition booth.
“Just seeing the response, as it should be, for our WWII veterans — it was amazing,” said Jason Gilbertson, director of marketing for Winchester Ammunition.
The procession was captured on the Winchester Ammunition Facebook page.
Gilbertson described the event as “a celebration of what they’ve (the veterans) accomplished, what they’ve given up, for our freedom.”
“There are many veterans roaming the halls (at the NRA Show),” Gilbertson continued. “And honestly, we couldn’t be more thankful for everything they do for us on a daily basis.”
Mark Yackley, a Winchester brand ambassador and member of the Marine Corps for more than 20 years, also joined Gilbertson on stage to thank the men for their service.
“We’re honored to have these veterans here today who gave so much and sacrificed so much for all of us. We just wanted a chance to say thank you,” said Yackley.
Winchester representatives took turns reading the impressive biographies of the five men as a crowd of attendees watched and applauded.
The following men were honored during the ceremony.
Roger Newcomb: Roger recently celebrated his 92nd birthday. In 1945, as a high school student in Logansport, Indiana, and a part-time worker for the railroad, he enlisted in the Army at the age of 18. During WWII, he served in the Army’s 311th regiment, 78th division and the 29th infantry regiment. He was also selected as a trumpet player for the 431st Army Services Band in Germany and provided much-needed musical motivation for the troops. As a member of “the greatest generation,” he returned to the states and attended Indiana University. He later started Taylor-Newcomb Engineering, from which he is now retired. Roger married the love of his life, Jane, in 1956.
William Fisher: Born in Indianapolis in December of 1924, Bill began basic training in July of 1943 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He entered the war in Glasgow, Scotland, and was assigned as a replacement with the 294th combat engineer battalion. Heading for the D-Day invasion aboard the Susan B. Anthony, his ship hit a mine and sank. All aboard were rescued and they later landed on Utah Beach, D-Day +1. The engineer battalion worked on repairing roads, minesweeping and building, and rebuilding bridges. At the end of the war, Bill’s unit ended up guarding German prisoners in Berlin who were working on the new Allied Headquarters. PFC Fisher saw the “Bob Hope Show” in Berlin before he left Germany on Christmas Day 1945. He was discharged from the Army in January 1946.
Wayne Saucerman: Born in Sullivan County, Indiana, in May of 1926, Wayne entered the U.S. Marine Corps in April of 1944 and completed basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina. After advanced infantry training, he went to Hawaii and was assigned to the 4th Marine Division. He volunteered for the scout and sniper platoon with the 24th regiment. On January 1, 1945, the 4th Marine Division left Hawaii for Iwo Jima. On February 19, 1945, his division landed on Iwo Jima. Wayne remained in combat until March 15, 1945, when a Japanese bullet entered his right hand and right leg, where one bullet still remains today. He spent months of recuperation at different naval hospitals and was discharged as corporal on December 13, 1945. He returned to Indiana where he was married and raised his family.
Richard Small: Richard was born in Indianapolis in October of 1925. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in late 1943 and reported to basic training at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in January 1944. Richard was trained in basic artillery but was transferred to the infantry at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. He then served as an infantry rifleman with the 65th infantry division, Patton’s Raiders, and entered Europe at the Port of Le Havre, France, with his first combat experience at Saarlautern, Germany. He participated in the Rhineland and Central European campaigns and obtained the rank of staff sergeant. As the war ended, Richard served as an honor guard for General Patton. Richard was discharged in May of 1946 and returned home to Indianapolis where he finished college, got married and raised his family.
Wayne Baker: Wayne enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in September of 1943. He was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. Wayne served on the U.S. Coast Guard Calumet patrolling the East Coast for enemy submarines. He later transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard Golden Gate on the West Coast and escorted Navy ships back to port at the end of the war. After the war he returned to Indiana, managed the family farm and also worked as a mechanic. He and his wife, Martha, raised five children. Wayne still maintains his farmland today.
Special thanks to the Indy Honor Flight (indyhonorflight.org), Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Honor Guard, Circle City Bucket Drummers the volunteers/guardian angels who all contributed to the event.
*Winchester recently released its Victory Series ammunition to pay honor to the anniversary of World War II. The ammunition is specially packaged in collectible cartons and wood boxes. All ammunition as part of the series will also include special head stamps and period-correct load specifications.