In the basement of Gerald Shaner’s Westerville home, there’s a wall covered in medals and plaques he earned over a storied military career that took him to conflicts in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
That wall just got a little more crowded.
On Friday, 95-year-old Shaner, who goes by “Jerry,” was presented with certificates of appreciation from Governor Mike DeWine and the city of Westerville for his service and dedication to the United States. Westerville Police were there, as well as U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers, who is also a Brigadier General in the Ohio National Guard.
“I’ve never in my life expected anything like this,” said Shaner, who left the Army as a Command Sergeant Major, one of the highest ranks an officer can achieve. “It felt good to get recognized for my service.”
In 1940, a 16-year-old Shaner visited a National Guard recruiting station with a friend, but but was not enlisting because the age requirement was 18.
An officer asked why he wasn’t enlisting. Shaner told him he was too young.
“You look 18 to me,” the Sargent said. “Come in and join the National Guard.”
With that, Shaner’s military career was born.
After serving in the pacific theater of World War II in the Army, Shaner came home and met his wife, Freda in 1947. They’ll celebrate their 71st anniversary later this month.
Shaner earned the Silver Star in 1944 when he took out a bunker in Bougainville, New Guinea in the battle for Hill 700. In addition, he earned two Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Commendations and a Presidential Unit Award during his tours of combat in three different wars.
“I never looked back,” Shaner said of his time served. “What I did, I did for the company and for the battalion. I have no regrets.”