A Sedalia veteran was honored Thursday evening in the Missouri State Fair’s first Military Flag Retreat Ceremony.
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Euphemia Zahringer was honored at the flagpole at the Missouri State Highway Patrol Office near the Centennial Entrance at 5 p.m. Thursday.
2019 is the first year the state fair has hosted the Military Flag Retreat Ceremony, with Zahringer being the first veteran chosen to be honored.
According to the Missouri State Fair, Zahringer served in the U.S. Navy WAVES from July 29, 1943, to December 11, 1945. She served across the country, attending boot camp in New York City, training in Atlanta, Georgia, Corpus Christi, Texas, and Keneohe Bay, Hawaii. She was an instructor and taught radio navigation and instrument flight in a simulator to cadets and officers.
Attendees were led in the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem was played. The flag was lowered by soldiers from the local Missouri Army National Guard, who folded it. A veteran client and his service dog from Retrieving Freedom Inc., which is building its headquarters in Pettis County, presented the flag to Zahringer.
Brian Sowers, of Brownfield Ag News, moderated the ceremony, reading a short speech about Zahringer’s service and her life.
“Friends and family describe her as a Christian who loves God and her country. She is very devoted to teaching the Bible and history,” Sowers said. “In her free time she enjoys reading, studying and fellowship while spending time with people. Words to describe her include inquisitive, honorable and dedicated. I met her for about five minutes and I can say that is absolutely true, every word of that.”
Zahringer told the Democrat she felt “very honored and humbled” by the ceremony. Zahringer enjoyed her time in the Navy “very much” and her favorite part of her two and a half years of service was the people she met.
“I enjoyed the teaching, but I enjoyed the people I met. I met so many wonderful people. Formed some very close friendships that lasted long after the war,” she said.
During Sower’s speech, he mentioned Zahringer had been invited to fly a B-2 simulator at Whiteman Air Force Base. Sowers said that according to Zahringer, the most exciting part “was meeting several other female B-2 pilots who called her a pioneer in her field of service.”
When asked what it was like to be a female in the military during the 1940s Zahringer said it was good.
“Many more men than there were women, so the women didn’t have to worry about getting dates. They were polite, they were good,” Zahringer joked.
“I was telling my story once and somebody said, ‘Well what did you do if a fella tried to hit on you?’ I said ‘What?’ I just told them to buzz off and they did,” Zahringer jokingly continued.
Zahringer said that had she been given the opportunity, maybe she would have wanted to be a pilot. However, she said they were so busy with the war everyone was just concerned with doing their jobs.
Mariah Fox, an intern at the Missouri State Fair and a student at Moberly Area Community College, planned the ceremony. Fox said they decided to do the event after seeing another fair do it in New York.
“(The purpose) is to honor our active military. We had Retrieving Freedom, Capital Materials and Starline Brass reach out to us and they wanted to bring this project forward for us to do,” she said. “Actually this is something that Erie County Fair in New York does. Kari (Mergen) our marketing director, watched a program on it...She decided to bring that here and make it a part of our fair.”
While this is only their first year doing it, fair staff hopes it becomes a tradition in the years to come.
“I think that it is going to be a tradition that continues for years and years to come and we’re going to try to make sure that it happens,” said Sowers in his remarks.
The fair will continue to have the ceremony each night to honor a different military member or veteran from Missouri. They were chosen from nominations submitted earlier in the year.