Missouri Gov. Mike Parson honored a 100-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor on Thursday afternoon.

Earl Wanbaugh has been a resident of the Missouri Veterans Home in Warrensburg since August, according to his son Linn Wanbaugh, who attended a ceremony held in the chapel with a few hundred people, including other vets, family members, local and state dignitaries, and veterans home staff.

Warrensburg Mayor Danielle Johnston and Chairman Pro Tem Casey Lund were also in attendance, as was former State Sen. David Pearce.

The Navy veteran was assigned to the USS Pennsylvania when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941, 77 years ago this week. Wanbaugh served as a chief petty officer. (He enlisted in the US Navy in 1939, one of five children.)

Gov. Parson said that Wanbaugh's ship was in dry dock for repairs when the attack occurred. He added that the Pennsylvania was one of the first ships to open fire on the enemy, ultimately taking out 15 enemy planes.

“Earl helped put out the fire, which helped the fire from spreading,” Parson said, adding that Earl and his three brothers made it back home safely after the war.

Gov. Parson presented Wanbaugh with a proclamation during the ceremony. “Thank you sir,” responded Wanbaugh. The proclamation was signed by Gov. Parson and Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft.

His son Linn was also in attendance Thursday. He praised the Missouri Veterans Home at Warrensburg, (1300 Veterans Road) which employs over 250 people. The chapel area on Thursday was all decked out with close to a dozen Christmas trees. Eric Endsley is the home's Administrator.

According to Parson, “this is one of the premiere Veterans homes in the state of Missouri.” The event was part of the governor's Missouri Healthcare Week tour.

As part of the governor’s Healthcare Week, Parson, along with the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Family Guidance Center for Behavioral Healthcare in St. Joseph, hosted a round-table discussion Thursday, Dec. 6 to share information on the expansion of telehealth practices in behavioral health.

The event was held at the Family Guidance Center in St. Joseph. Participants discussed the increase in the utilization of telehealth, as well as the benefits to the state, barriers in the use of technology, and policies that now make behavioral telehealth more accessible.

Parson, a US Army veteran, praised other veterans of the past at the conclusion of his speech.

“It wasn't about me wearing the uniform, it was about the people who wore the uniform before me. It was about the sacrifices they made over the years to give me the opportunity to serve this country,” Parson said. “It was the first point in my life when I truly understood what public service meant.”

The 57th governor of Missouri went on to say that “what these men and women have done, they've done their duty, but it is our time to pass down to the next generation what's been passed down to us, including basic freedoms and rights.”

To see a video produced by the Missouri Veterans Commission, click here.

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