Government honors deceased local veteran

By Clay Wilson

The late Gerardo Basco gave 31 years of his life in service to his country.

On Monday, his country gave a little something back to Basco.

"This certificate is awarded by a grateful nation in recognition of devoted and selfless consecration to the service of our country in the Armed Forces of the United States," read the framed certificate given to Basco's wife, Christine.

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., presented the certificate to Christine Basco. The award was signed by President George W. Bush.

"I think it's a real good thing. He served his country," said Mrs. Basco. At 85 years of age, she lives in the Carestone assisted living facility in Jonesboro. The general manager of the facility, Stacey Owen, accompanied Christine Basco on the special trip to Scott's Office.

"I can't tell you all how actually honored I am (to make the presentation)," Scott said.

The idea for the ceremony originated with Locust Grove resident Frances Glover, who is Gerardo Basco's stepdaughter.

Something of a local political activist, Glover had worked with U.S. Rep. Mac Collins before last year's redistricting put her in Scott's district. She said that when she first went to meet Scott after he had moved into Collins' old office, Scott gave her a book outlining veterans' benefits.

One of the benefits listed was the presidential commendation. Glover said she saw two good reasons to pursue this: to honor her stepfather, and to help her mother – who suffers from senile dementia – to remember her husband.

Sometimes you try to do what you can to give them back some of what they've lost ?," Glover said.

Some of Basco's memories obviously came back Monday.

"He served his country for 31 years," she told Scott. "They wouldn't let him serve longer. He would have served longer."

She also remembered how she worked in a factory helping to build B-29 bombers.

"It was our first big plane in the second world war," she said.

According to Glover, Gerardo Basco was present at the event that pulled the U.S. into World War II. A member of the U.S. Army, he was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese bombed it on Dec. 7, 1941.

Although he was a member of the Army Band, Basco served as a medic during the war.

"Band members don't play much in wartime," Glover said.

After the war, Basco spent several years at Ft. McPherson, where Glover lived from about the age of 13 when her mother married Basco. He retired from Ft. Jackson, S.C., in 1960 and died in 1966.

Glover said that in applying for the presidential commendation, she just felt that her stepfather deserved some recognition for his service.

"If our service people gave this much time, I think we should give them respect," she said.

Scott agreed, saying several times that it was he was honored to present the award. He asked an aide to take a picture of him, Glover, Christine Basco and other family and friends for his office in Washington.

"If it were not for people like your husband, this whole world would be – upside down," he said.

He also noted that the ceremony seemed particularly appropriate in light of the approaching Independence Day holiday.

"The Lord works in mysterious ways, and this is the week leading up to July 4," he said.

Glover said she was pleased with the ceremony and the recognition for her father, but especially pleased with the impact it had on her mother.

"Seeing her memory and seeing the good things she felt, I think that's what made it so good," she said.