Local veteran receives tribute after passing away due to COVID-19
After passing away due to COVID-19 in mid-April, a Kewaunee County veteran finally receives the military honor he deserves.
There's a reason why despite tears and heavy hearts today in Luxemburg, there's at last a feeling of comfort.
And that's because one of the sure things friends and family will always remember about Jerry Simonar's colorful, unique and fulfilling life, is the irony, sad irony, with how his final year of life unfolded.
Celebrating his 87th birthday last fall with buddies he served with in Korea, Jerry was filled with intrigue and inspiration over the unexpected opportunity to return on an honor flight nearly 70 years later.
"And I think I should go," said Simonar.
One of 52 Northeast Wisconsin Korean War vets selected to go, Jerry couldn't wait.
But then the coronavirus hit, the trip was canceled, and Jerry felt really bad.
"Disappointing, I was geared up for it. All the fellas that I wanted to represent in Kewaunee County," said Simonar in late February.
Despite his disappointment, Jerry understood, caring, as he always did, about his hometown.
"I didn't want to bring the sickness back, the virus back to Kewaunee or Luxemburg, I myself it wouldn't make no difference, but the other people I wouldn't want to spread that around," said Simonar at the time.
And yet just a few months later, on April 15th, Luxemburg grieved as Jerry fell victim to COVID-19.
For the family, the hardest part without question, was because of the pandemic shutdown, they couldn't have a funeral for Jerry with military honors, until today.
"And he's going to be buried only a couple hundred yards from where he was born, he was always right here in Luxemburg," says Dale Simonar, Jerry's son.
As a lifelong member of American Legion Post 262, Jerry led the efforts over the years to honor countless Kewaunee County veterans at their funerals.
"Jerry was my Sergeant of Arms for 30-plus years, and it's just an honor, he just, he's a symbol of true patriotism," says Dennis Langteau, American Legion Post 262 Commander.
Just down the street from the home he was born in, next door to the service station he owned and worked at until the end, Jerry's ashes are laid to rest.
A 21-gun salute rings out, and the playing of Taps provides the fitting tribute for Jerry Simonar.