Irvin Thompson, Malta Steppe, Ragnar Myking, Archie VanWinkle and David Douthit.
These Ketchikan men will be remembered Monday, Memorial Day.
Thompson, Steppe and Myking made the ultimate sacrifice during World War II; VanWinkle in the Korean War, and Douthit, the Gulf War — over a span of about 50 years.
From Ketchikan, they deployed to Britain, France, Hawaii, Korea and the Middle East. Four died overseas, while the fifth died later from his injuries.
Thompson, an ensign, is believed to be the first Alaskan to lose his life in World War II. He graduated from Ketchikan High School in 1935 and died aboard the battleship Oklahoma when it sank following the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on Dec. 7, 1941.
Steppe entered WWII before the United States. He was a fighter pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force and fought in the 1940 Battle of Britain. It is believed that he survived the battle and joined the American Eagles Squadron in Britain before being shot down.
Steppe’s father was a U.S. Customs agent in Ketchikan, while his mother was employed at Tongass Trading Co. Kayhi once displayed a plaque commemorating Steppe’s sacrifice.
Myking died during the Normandy Invasion of WWII. Later, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post was named for him.
VanWinkle earned the U.S. armed services’ highest award — the Congressional Medical of Honor — during the Korean War. He survived the war, but his injuries led to his death.
Douthit grew up in Ketchikan, the son of Harvey and Nita Douthit. His father was employed by Ketchikan Pulp Co. until the family moved to Soldotna.
It’s been about 30 years since Douthit’s sacrifice, the most recent.
But he isn’t forgotten. And neither should the others be.
Of course, family and friends, even members in the community who briefly or casually knew one of them, have a face to put to the name.
A smile. A frown. A manner of speaking and stories from school and summer days together might be in these folks’ memories. Feelings of affection and respect, undoubtedly.
It’s a respect that spans the decades, and that Memorial Day is to illicit.
Let’s salute the memory of Thompson, Steppe, Myking, VanWinkle and Douthit on Monday, a day for remembering.