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    Posted November 18, 2014 by
    jkanneman
    Location
    Palo Alto, California

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    World War II Veteran Resident and Executive Director at Moldaw Reflect on Military Experiences and Life Lessons Gained

     
    Henry Sterngold, a 91-year-old veteran who lives at the innovative retirement community in Palo Alto, Moldaw Residences, understands the true significance surrounding Veterans Day. He decided to serve in the U.S. Navy during WWII when he was only 20 years old and in the middle of earning his degree at the University of Michigan. Darren Trisel, the current executive director at Moldaw, also enlisted in the military at a young age but during a very different timeframe and for a very different personal reason. Despite their unique circumstances and involvement, both can look back on the experiences they had during their military training and service and feel grateful for the knowledge, memories and life lessons they gained.

    Sterngold recalls, “It was 1943, and we were in the middle of a war; I felt that there was a lot of work to do, and I could be a part of helping with that. My family was not too pleased about it at first, but they ended up being supportive of me and of my service.”

    Sterngold was a Navy officer and spent most of his time on numerous South Pacific islands. He was responsible for building the airstrips for planes to take off and land safely on the islands. He also was in charge of storage facilities that housed ammunition, food, clothing and critical supplies for the troops. In addition, he ensured that U.S. Navy servicemen and women, along with the U.S. Marines, had proper housing and provided infrastructure for them.

    “As an officer in command, I was given major responsibility and managed crucial tasks,” said Sterngold. “I had a lot to keep up with and made sure everything ran efficiently. I learned a great deal about discipline and accountability through those times.”

    Sterngold recalls traveling to multiple islands, from New Caledonia to the Marianas to the Fiji islands to Samoa and to Tongatabu. He built and repaired many airstrips and facilities. He was one of the youngest Naval officers in charge of such operations. He remembers helping build a much-needed hospital during his service and the satisfaction that came from that.
    “My military experience overall was tremendously interesting to me,” said Sterngold. “I was fortunate to survive and develop friendships along the way. One specific Marine and I bonded during our time of service together, and we kept in touch as much as we could over the years.”

    Although under extremely different conditions, Darren Trisel similarly feels that he had a fascinating and overall beneficial experience in his military service. Trisel was motivated to enlist in the U.S. Air Force, not because of a war but to further his education and build his future. He was a lab technologist and was trained in the medical field through the community college opportunities of the Air Force. He attended classes as part of the training and completed an internship with the USAF.

    “I don’t have the same kind of perspective as those who served during wartime and faced difficult odds in combat, but I believe my military experience taught me a lot,” said Trisel. “It reminded me of the importance of respect and honor. Working in the hospital, I served both active military personnel and many retired veterans. I still can recall those daily interactions, connecting with the seniors and retired vets just like Mr. Sterngold; now I am able to share those same connections with many I serve here at Moldaw.”

    Trisel earned his undergraduate degree in healthcare management and his Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration. One significant experience during his seven years with the Air Force from 1983 to 1990 was both a tragic and memorable one. As a lab technologist, Trisel was part the investigation team for the Challenger explosion and spent significant time at Patrick Air Force Base for Cape Canaveral Air Station earning an award for his work.

    “I believe it’s important to hear about our veterans’ stories and experiences and to recognize them on Veterans Day and often,” said Trisel. “Simply listening to them and acknowledging what they have done or seen in their lifetimes is part of giving them the respect they deserve and preserving their personal dignity and journeys. The main focus for us at Moldaw is showing an appreciation of their lives and sharing with them as a family and tight-knit community.”

    Sterngold, along with the other resident veterans at Moldaw, recently enjoyed a special Veterans Day program at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, which is adjacent to Moldaw. A buffet lunch followed on Moldaw’s campus for all attendees to join in recognition of the veterans and their service. Several shared about their experiences during the luncheon.
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