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Flag waves in honor of Tomah WWII veteran

Raymond "Red" Keith Larrabee

A Tomah veteran who served with the Fiji military during World War II is honored with a "Flag of Remembrance" on Friday.

Raymond "Red" Keith Larrabee was born Feb. 17, 1920, in New Lisbon, Wis., the son of Lawrence James and Grace (Waterman) Larrabee. He graduated from Tomah High School as an accomplished scholar and athlete in football, basketball and baseball. Known for his quickness and speed, he earned the nickname "Lightning Red."

After high school, Larrabee enlisted in the National Guard of the United States, Co. D. 107th Quartermaster Truck C and shipped to Camp Beauregard, La., in 1940, for training. On May 2, 1942, he was shipped overseas to New Zealand for combat against the Japanese army during World War II.

Larrabee's places of duty included the Fiji Islands, Green Island, New Caledonia, Bougainville Island and the North Solomon Islands, which was one of the forces serving in the South Pacific under General Douglas MacArthur.

Larrabee said at one time he had the privilege to serve with the Fiji military. He had a great respect for these men, and was able to share the language and customs of their tribes. His foreign service took place from May 2, 1942, to March 25, 1945.

Larrabee was married to Evelyn Smith Feb. 20, 1946, at Bethany Lutheran Church, San Jose, Calif. In 1947 they returned to Tomah, where they raised three daughters. Larrabee worked at the Tomah Post Office until retiring as an assistant postmaster after 32 years of service.

Larrabee was very involved with service to family and community, including serving as post commander and life member of Curtiss-McNutt VFW Post 1382 and life member of the Grossman-Sowle-Larsen-Senz American Legion Post 201. His love for God, family and friends and the United States of America were ever-present with him.

He died in Sparta on Feb. 13, 2008.

The flag will be raised at 9 a.m. Friday in front of the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.

The "Flag of Remembrance Program," sponsored by the Richard I. Bong American Legion Post 435, honors the life and memory of one deceased veteran every week by flying a flag over the veterans center. Information about the veteran is on display at the center through the week.

For information about the program, contact (715) 392-7151, or email info@bvhcenter.org or educator@bvhcenter.org.

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