Veteran of the Month – George Demars

March 1, 2016

March 2016 Veteran of the Month
Name: George Demars
Place of Birth: Winsted
Year of Birth: 1932
Military Branch of Service: United States Marine Corps
Enlisted, Commissioned, or drafted?: Enlisted
Service Dates: January 1951-1954
Highest Rank: Sergeant
Military Job: Infantry
Duties: Close combat and supervision of his squad
Unit, Division, Battalion, Group, Ship, Etc. (Please do not abbreviate): Fox Company, Second Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, First Marine Division

War, Operation, or Conflict served in: The Korean War

Locations of Service: The Sixth Fleet and Korea

Battles/Campaigns: The Korean War

Decorations: The Bronze Star with Combat V

Combat or service-related injuries: Frostbite (36 degrees below zero weather)

Military Schools/Training: Boot camp Paris Island
Family info: George married after the war and had 3 sons: Mart- deceased, Kyle – deceased and Keith. He now has a fourth son, Chandler, by his second wife Jennifer.

Community activities:
George has been extremely active in the community as one of Winsted’s civic leaders for decades. He was chairman of the local cancer drive and sat on the advisory boards for the Salvation Army, Northwest Community Bank and Northwestern Connecticut Community College. He also served as Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce, President of the YMCA, President of the Kiwanis club, President of the Gilbert School Athletic Club, President of the Winsted Board of Recreation, Vice president of the Winsted JC’s, Youth Director of the YMCA, and Board of Directors Member of the Visiting Nurse association. George has also been a member of the Elks club, VFW post 840, the Pinewoods Racket club, City League Basketball, the Greenwoods Country Club and the Winsted Historical Society Board.

Occupation after military service:
George was the Director of Athletics of the YMCA prior to becoming the President and Treasurer of the Carnell Company for 35 years. The Carnell Co. was the most successful and the last lumberyard operating in Winsted before it closed down when George retired.

Bio/Narrative/memorable events (Include information about post-military life and family)
George was born in Winsted in 1932. He attended the Gilbert School where he lettered in football, basketball and baseball. George was always a very good athlete and sports would play a role in his life well into adulthood.

After high school in 1950 George joined the United States Marine Corps. He enlisted with two of his buddies, Joe Gillett (who lost both legs) and Ken Pratt. Early on he was assigned to the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea. He played basketball for the fleet in North Africa and Europe. In 1952 he was sent to Korea where he would see much combat over the next 15 months.

On Feb. 25, 1953 the company in which George served was overrun after raiding an enemy position on a ridge. When the company withdrew, it was discovered that six wounded men had been left behind. George, who normally led a squad, was the ranking man left standing and organized a platoon size force that battled back to the position, despite enemy reinforcements, and rescued all of the wounded men. During this action George was repeatedly exposed to enemy grenades, machinegun fire, and rifle fire. While he advanced, a 17-year-old marine behind George fed him grenades, which George would then throw at the enemy. The young man was eventually shot in the head and died. For this action George was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat V (the V indicates that the medal was awarded for an act of heroism in combat).

George remained in Korea until the end of the conflict. He was photographed shaking hands with Major General Pollac at the signing of the armistice in 1953. He was also pictured and named on the front page of the July 28, 1953 Harford Times celebrating the armistice with a handful of his marine buddies.

Years after the war Dave Cox, a local high school history teacher, handed George a book called, “Hey, Mac, Where Ya Been” By Henry Berry (author of the well know book Semper Fi Mac). The book was about the individual experiences of Marines who had served in the Korean War and he thought George might enjoy it. Mr. Cox was rather surprised when George informed him that he was one of the two men pictured on the cover.

George was also present for the repatriation of US prisoners who had been held by the communist forces. About five years ago George was invited to return to Korea for an all expense paid trip and tour with about 25 or 30 other veterans of the conflict.

While still in Korea, George received a touching letter from the parents of a fellow marine sergeant who had been killed in Korea (Frank and Louise of Fort Worth, Texas). They thanked him for writing to them and sending pictures their son had taken before his death. They also shared their thoughts on the Korean War. It is impossible to read this letter without shedding a tear.