Veterans Day, as we know it, dates back to 1954 and has roots in the celebration of World War I’s Armistice Day in November of 1919, but some of Lebanon’s prominent veterans were being recognized long before that.

Colonel John Sanderson, a Lebanon native, played a small but key role in the Civil War and the years leading up to it. Sanderson was elected to the state legislature before the war and, in 1861, visited President Lincoln in an attempt to convince him to appoint Simon Cameron, a personal friend of his, as Secretary of War. Lincoln agreed after some discussion with Sanderson and US Senator Edgar Cowen. Sanderson served in the Union shortly afterwards, associated with the Army of the Cumberland and their efforts at the Battle of Chickamauga. Sanderson is also famous for publicly exposing the Knights of the Golden Circle, a secret organization that undertook subversive actions in the hopes of creating a “golden circle” of annexed or aligned slave states in the South.

John Philip Sanderson. (Pennsylvania State Senate)

John’s son, another Lebanon native, was Captain George Sanderson. George received recognition for actions taken at the Battle of Shiloh and later in the Atlanta Campaign. He is also known for being the first to create a monument at the site of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Read More: With National Medal of Honor Day, recalling origin of Gap’s Marquette Lake

Seargant Charles Marquette, the namesake of Fort Indiantown Gap’s Marquette Lake, was the first Lebanon County recipient of the Medal of Honor. He received the recognition during the Civil War in Petersburg, Virginia, for “plant[ing] colors on the enemy’s breastworks,” a phrase that appears in virtually every biographical entry about Marquette. Though little other information on Marquette is readily available, his name is not one soon forgotten to county residents.

Also serving in the Civil War was Major General John P. S. Gobin, who ended up as a commander in the 28th Division. LebTown recently detailed Gobin’s involvement in the American South, including an unexepected connection to Fort Taylor of Key West, down in Florida.

Read More: Finding a Lebanon connection in an unexpected place: Key West’s Fort Taylor

Captain Alexander Patch, an 1877 graduate of West Point, served in the old American West, in campaigns against native tribes and outlaws. A skirmish with a Comanche man forced a leg amputation, and he lived the rest of his life with an artificial leg. He later settled in Lebanon around 1890, and, following his retirement from the service, eventually became President of the Cornwall Railroad Company in 1905. He and his family lived in the Donaghmore Mansion on Chestnut Street. He died in 1924 following complications from an operation the previous year and was buried at West Point.

Alexander “Sandy” Patch Jr.

Lieutenant General Alexander Patch Jr. and Major General Joseph Patch, both sons of the senior Patch, also made names for themselves. Alexander Jr., better known as “Sandy,” received a hero’s welcome upon his return to Lebanon, along with his brother Joseph. Both brothers were involved in World War I as infantry captains in France, deployed in 1917. Their limited experience nevertheless set the stage for later fame.

In World War II, Sandy was well known for his involvement in Guadalcanal, a significant part of the South Pacific campaign. He had a temper, according to those who knew him, “like the devil before dawn.” Sandy was nevertheless overjoyed with the hero’s welcome he recieved upon his return to Lebanon in October 1945, saying: “I am extremely grateful for the reception which I have received in Lebanon. I am more grateful than ever I could express. I could but wish I was more articulate.”

Lebanon celebrates the return of Alexander “Sandy” Patch Jr. (The Daily News, 8 Oct. 1945)

In a sad twist of fate, Sandy’s return was very short-lived. A lifetime of health complications eventually culminated in a battle with pneumonia, which Sandy succumbed to in November of 1945, only a month after his welcome in Lebanon. His brother Joseph, who commanded Fort Lewis in Washington, passed away in 1966.

Major Dick Winters, whose name reached a broad audience with the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers, also has ties to Lebanon. The World War II leader who spearheaded the Brécourt Manor Assault and helped secure Utah Beach (and by extension Normandy itself) was promoted to Major following the Battle of the Bulge. In his return from the war, he reunited with his parents at Fort Indiantown Gap. He lived for a time on a property in Fredericksburg and took local jobs, and in his later years lived at Columbia Cottage in Palmyra, where he passed away in 2011.

Major Dick Winters. (Gettysburg Museum of History)

Read More: Major Dick Winters would have been 101 this year – his ties to Lebanon County

Who do you want to see recognized?

Only a few prominent veterans are written about in the newspapers, but Veterans Day celebrates every veteran who served their country, and they all deserve recognition. If you know about a veteran who deserves proper recognition, share a comment and let us know!

Other Lebanon County Veterans to be Recognized

“My grandfather Richard Bleistine. He was in the Navy during Korea and served as a Lebanon City Council for 24 years.” – Tannon Miller

“My mother, Joni Oates and my Uncles, Barry “Skip” Hernley, Dennis Hernley, and Lynn Hernley, and my Brother-in-law Timothy Progin. I’m proud to call all of them my family.” – Anonymous

“My uncle Jacob Kury was reported missing in action over Steyr, Austria on April 2 1944. Does anyone know any information about his unit. He was a pilot in the US Air Force. His brother, my father Anthony Kury was a medic stationed in Cerencester England from 1944 to 1945. He cared for the wounded soldiers that were in the D Day invasion. Both were heroes in my eyes.” – Rosanne Kury. Rosanne later followed up to note that Jacob was in the 149th Airborne 15th Italy and that little information was given to her family after his plane was hit and went down while flying bomber missions.

This post has been updated with additional information on Charles Marquette.

This post has also been updated with some of the responses we got to our form above.

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Josh Groh is a Cornwall native and writer who began reporting for LebTown in 2019. He continued to regularly contribute to LebTown while earning a degree in environmental science at Lebanon Valley College, graduating in 2021. Since then, he has lead conservation crews in Colorado and taken on additional...


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