It’s unfathomable the sacrifices our veterans have made for our country — and what Teddy Ranschler sacrificed years and years ago was a high school education.
In 1943, military officials came into the Hazelton school — and pulled Teddy right out of class.
It was that moment that shaped the rest of his life — and it was also that moment that would inspire a special event nearly eight decades later.
Every year, students at HMB hold a Veteran’s Day celebration. And every year, Emmons County veterans are invited.
95-year-old Teddy Ranschler never misses it.
But this one, this year, would be different for the World War II Veteran.
Teddy isn’t one to talk about his time in the Navy — like most veterans — he’ll tell you he didn’t do anything special.
After the Dec. 7 attack that threw the U.S. into the second World War, Teddy was drafted and sent to Pearl Harbor.
For two years, he worked behind the scenes in an elite group of skilled construction workers called the Seabees.
They built naval bases with intimidating speed to showcase America’s power to rebuild and reunite, and that would push the U.S. Navy across the Pacific and the Atlantic.
Teddy was one of those unsung heroes who would quietly help to win a war.
You see, the soldiers on the frontlines weren’t the only heroes.
All that brings us to all this: A lot of pomp and circumstance.
Because of the war, Teddy never did graduate from the school he spends so much time at today.
“You were sitting right there in the bleachers when they took you away,” said Tracy Hanzal, Superintendent of HMB School.
Now comes a surprise 78 years in the making.
“After meeting all the criteria and graduating requirements — when I call your name please come forward and accept your diploma — Theodore Ranschler,” said Hanzal.
And just like that, Teddy has a brand new high school diploma — Class of 1944.
A symbol of the fact that Teddy’s sacrifices haven’t been forgotten, and never will be.
“Thank you for being you, and let’s give Teddy a round of applause”, Hanzal adds.
Teddy once said the Seabees made pretty good money — about $57 a month.
When he came back to Hazelton after the war, he had saved enough money to buy his parents a home for about $750.
Theirs had burned down in a fire.
That’s just the kind of guy he is.
In peacetime, he found another use for the skills he acquired in the Navy: He was a carpenter for most of his life.
One side note: The Seabees were a group created specifically because of the bombing at Pearl Harbor.
But to this day, they’ve been a part of every major war fought in by the U.S. since World War II.
The Seabees have also helped with reconstruction efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world.