Rimbey resident and Second World War veteran Elmer Schauer was one of 13 people from across western Canada who was recognized for his work with veterans during a ceremony held in Calgary last Monday afternoon.
“It was super. To get the army and the navy together and we had a lot of fun talking to each other and congratulating one another was wonderful,” Schauer said. “The people from Ottawa were very good too and talked to all of us – it was super.”
He said it was a great opportunity to see some familiar faces and reminisce about their time overseas, however when it comes to talking about the war itself, Schauer like many other veterans, doesn’t want to discuss it much.
“When they ask me to come and talk to the kids at school, they’ll ask me questions and I’m willing to answer them to the best of my ability without getting into the war too deeply,” he said. “I don’t really like to talk about the war, but the smaller kids will ask questions like, ‘what was the food like’, and other little things. That’s okay with me and I tell them we ate hard tack and corned beef. In some ways it is very difficult (discussing the war). When I recall what happened on the beaches, it’s tough.”
Since the conclusion of the war, Schauer said Veterans Affairs has taken very good care of himself and his comrades – far better than veterans from the United States.
“I know one thing, for the veterans who qualify, we get all our medical expenses paid for and we don’t have too much to worry about, but we’re not nearly as bad off as the American veterans,” he said. “We have it much better here than they do in the United States.”
Schauer was nominated for the recognition by his daughter a while back but forgot to tell her father about it. Naturally, he said he was quite surprised when he got the call from Ottawa telling him that the federal government would acknowledge him.
“My daughter sent in the application about a year ago and when they phoned me from Ottawa I said I thought they had the wrong person,” he said. “Anyway, she said she’d send me some literature and forms to fill out so everything would be ready for going to Calgary. But I was certainly shocked when they called.”
As for the future, Schauer said he would like to carry on with visiting area schools and meeting with students and added that he enjoys interacting with them – especially when it comes to his medals.
“I want to carry on visiting the schools as much as possible,” he said. “A lot of the smaller kids aren’t really interested in what you have to say to them and when they see a veteran with just ordinary Legion pins they don’t seem too interested, but when they see a whole row of medals, that what they look at and some will even want to touch them. So that makes a person feel real good.”
In addition to being recognized for his years of service in the Canadian Armed Forces, Shauer was also commended for his work in assisting other area veterans in their daily lives including two in particular.
“Mike Polushen is another veteran – he served in Italy and I help him a lot. I take him fishing and stuff like this – help him cut the hole in the ice, get him into his tent, help him in and out of the truck and other little things like that,” he said.
“In 1999 I picked up another elderly veteran – his name was Harold Hanem, and I asked him if he wanted to go to Remembrance Day services on November 11. He said, ‘sure I’ll go’. So I went over there and picked him up and just after we drove away he said, ‘take me back, I can’t go’, so I told him I was taking him to the hospital but he said he wanted to go home. When we got there, I got out of the car to help him out, but he died while I was doing that. I didn’t mind that he died in my car, but it was the feeling of losing him just like that,” Schauer said in recalling his old friend.
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the war, Mr. Schauer was awarded the Croix de Guerre (Cross of War). He was chosen to be the first Alberta veteran to receive license plate number VET 01, which was presented to him at the Alberta Legislative Building in 2005,” said a biography of Shauer supplied by Veterans Affairs Canada. “Mr. Schauer faithfully attends all Remembrance Day ceremonies and lays a wreath for his brother who was killed in action and is buried in Ortona, Italy. Mr. Schauer regularly visits schools and spends time speaking to students about his wartime experiences and the sacrifices of Canadian veterans. Mr. Schauer is still very active at age 88, and can often be found assisting other Veterans with day-to-day activities and appointments and he has even taken comrades fishing.”
During his time in the service, Shauer served with the 13th Field Regiment Forward Observation where he was a tank and wireless operator.
Schauer received the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation from Rob Anders, Member of Parliament for Calgary West, on behalf of the Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, at a ceremony in Calgary last Monday.
Other Albertans acknowledged included: John Cresswell, Tom Hradec, Roland Soper and Bill Wilson of Calgary, Valeria Ferguson of Edmonton and John Kolanchey of Morinville.
The commendation is presented to individuals who have contributed to the care and wellbeing of veterans and to the remembrance of their contributions, sacrifices and achievements. It is intended primarily for veterans, but in some circumstances may also be awarded to non-veterans. Nominations may be submitted by the public at any time and are reviewed annually by an advisory committee.