GREAT FALLS — On June 6th, World War II veteran Ed Maierle of Great Falls will turn 100 years old, and ahead of his centennial mark (which coincides with the anniversary of D-Day), there was a celebration of his life and his service.
U.S. Senator Steve Daines visited Beehive Homes to celebrate the upcoming birthday, and presented Maierle with a challenge coin and a copy of the entry in the Congressional Record that honors Maierle's service.
"It's my honor, Ed, to present to you a Congressional Record,” Daines said as he prepared to read the Congressional recognition.
Daines then presented a copy of the Congressional Record recognizing Maierle for his service. It reads, in part:
Ed enlisted in the U.S. Navy after Pearl Harbor was bombed. He was sent to Hawaii and became an "Avenger," a member of a torpedo bomber squadron stationed at Pearl Harbor. Ed also manned a 50-caliber machine gun on a PBY, a WWII seaplane. He later was stationed for 2 years as propeller specialist with a B-24 squadron on Esperitu Santo New Heberde Island. As part of this squadron, he flew daily missions, scouting for the dreaded A6M Zero Japanese fighter planes. After the war, Ed was stationed for 1 year at Whidbey Island, WA, before returning to Montana. For two summers, Ed and his wife, Mary Alice, became the first couple in the United States to man a U.S. Forest Service fire watch lookout tower. Following this adventure, Ed embarked on a very successful career in the insurance business.
"Pearl Harbor, Avenger, I joined the Navy,” Maierle said. "It's wonderful that the United States of America would do something like this."
Some of Maierle's family members, including his son Mick, were by his side Thursday.
Mick said, "It's amazing. How many people have the opportunity to see their dad turn age 100. Not only that, as Senator Daines was saying, his record of service going all the way back to the military and then serving in nursing home ministry for so many years with my mom. We all need role models and examples in our lives, how to live our lives. My dad definitely sets the example."
Daines said honoring Maierle is important: "These are stories we need to keep telling to the next generation, that we as Americans are free because of the sacrifice of these great American war heroes.”