Spanning the Generation Gap

World War II Veteran’s Visit To Sled Camp Resonates With Wounded Warriors

 

A recent three-day training camp in Falmouth, Mass., was a chance for players on the U.S. National Sled Hockey and the U.S. Development teams to come together on the ice for a dose of friendly competition and the opportunity to hone their skills. 

It proved to be so much more when local resident Jim Crossen, a World War II veteran, stopped by to address the team before conducting the ceremonial puck drop prior to Saturday’s final game. 

Crossen, who will turn 94 years old this week, was a Quartermaster in the U.S. Navy, serving in the Pacific from 1944 until 1946. During his visit to the Falmouth Ice Arena, he talked about his experiences in the Navy, which resonated with all every player and coach, but held a special meaning for those that had also served their country before joining Team USA. 

“As with most older veterans, he talked about what he’d done and didn’t put too much gravity on it,” said Ralph DeQuebec, a Marine Corps veteran and defenseman on the National Team. “He’s literally talking about navigation and trying to locate things with radar, and I’m thinking ‘that’s pretty significant and yet he’s talking about it like it’s nothing.’”

The significance of his service wasn’t lost on DeQuebec, who despite losing both his legs to an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2012, was beyond impressed with what Crossen and those of his generation experienced in the great war. 

“As a veteran, being able to represent the United States in any kind of capacity, be it from service or from hockey, it takes a lot of pride,” DeQuebec said. “At the end of the day you’re representing something bigger than yourself.

“I think anyone that’s ever served can respect that. I know when he comes out to our game and sees the players, he’s not just seeing the game of hockey. He’s seeing people that want to represent our country at the highest level and everything that comes along with that – selflessness, sacrifice and something bigger than ourselves.”

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