War history from those who served

Don Steiner and Donnaleen Lanktree provided first-hand knowledge of World War II to the students. Photo provided by Laura Murray

Clarkston News Staff Writer
Ninth graders in Laura Murray’s history class started their World War II unit by hearing a first-hand account of the war.
Don Steiner, a WWII Navy veteran, visited the classes on Nov. 27 and 28 to share his experiences during the war. He served from June 1942 to November 1945.
“This is really exciting to me because I attended Clarkston Schools from Kindergarten up through high school,” Steiner said of speaking to the students.
At the age or 17, Steiner begin his military service, starting with his training in Illinois. He served on five different ships throughout his three-year tenure and traveled around the world, including North Africa, the Caribbean, the Philippines and Italy. He shared a few stories with students, including this one:
“While we were going into port from San Juan, Puerto Rico, I was aboard ship and I was with binoculars. I happened to see what looked like a small boat out in the ocean leaving a trail,” Steiner said. “We signaled the shore Navy base, and they told us to come on into the port. They sent a destroyer out, the next morning we got word they sunk a German sub.”
After the war, Steiner returned home, married and had children, but he didn’t receive his high school diploma until 2002, at age 77.
“I was invited to Clarkston schools and on June 5, 2002, I was invited to graduate with the rest of the seniors and they presented me my diploma,” he said. “They gave me a standing ovation, they didn’t know Don Steiner from anybody, but I represented WWII service people, so that was just a very big honor for me.”
Rosebud Donnaleen Lanktree also spoke to the students about women’s role in WWII and her father’s service during the war.
Dressed as Rosie the Riveter, Lanktree shared different stories she collected from Rosie’s over the years, as well as her mother’s story as a Rosie during the war.
Steiner and Lanktree both thought the classes were attentive and interested in their stories about the war.
“The kids really enjoy it. It’s one of the most memorable things from this school,” Murray said.
Murray explained the WWII speakers event is held every year, this year it was held at the beginning of the classes’ WWII unit.
“They’re all super happy when they come,” Murray said of the speakers. “The veterans, they’ll write me notes or tell me how much they enjoy it and how respectful the kids were and how special it made them feel to get invited here, which is so interesting to think about that point of view, because they feel honored to come here and we’re honored to have them.”