Vets honored at Camellia Tea

Camellia tea photo lead_for websiteWWII VETERANS WERE THE HONORED GUESTS at the Clayton Historical Society’s Annual Camellia Tea last Sunday. From left: Martin Easton, U.S. Navy Flight Officer Trainee; Jauire Welsh, Navy Yoeman2nd Class; Rob Plaisted U.S. Navy Photographers Mate, 2nd Class,; Bob Hoyer, U.S. Army Infantry Engineer; Warren Miller, U.S. Navy, Electrician Mate, 3rd Class. [Photo: Tamara Steiner]

History truly came alive last Sunday as The Clayton Historical Society honored 10 local World War II veterans at the 38th Annual Camellia Tea held at the Clayton Museum. Attendees shared stories, recollections and historic photographs at the annual event. Among the honored guests was Rod Plaisted who was a young Photographer’s Mate Second Class in the U.S. Navy when Joe Rosenthal took his famous photograph of “Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.” Plaisted processed that photo and six others taken in sequence. “We knew right away it was an historic picture,” said Plaisted, who had one of the original prints with him at the tea.

Although he was clearly part of that history making photo, he never met Rosenthal. In fact, he avoided him, fearing Rosenthal would question him about the war. “I was just 18. I knew nothing,” Plaisted recalls. “We came ashore just 20 days after the Marines landed and I was afraid he would start asking me questions I couldn’t answer.”

Every year, the Historical Society chooses a small group to honor. Pouring honors have frequently gone to members of Clayton’s pioneering families or leaders. This year, the Veterans were chosen as a prelude to the large WWII exhibit that will open in May to honor VE Day. “The veterans were all very excited to be remembered,” said CHS president JoAnn Caspar. “It just seemed right.” The Clayton Museum, the original home of Joel Clayton, was decked out with an ornate silver tea and coffee service presiding over a table of picturesque goodies baked by CHS members and bowls of the event’s signature camellias in shades of pink, white and red.

Also honored at the tea was a small contingent from Diamond Terrace that included Lucille Brown, Marie Sutton and Lloyd Huddleston.

Sutton was part of the first class of Navy WAVES stationed in New York. Others veterans honored at the tea included Clayton Johnson, Angelo Blasquez, Jauire Welsh, Wil Wilcox, Dewey Dobson, Bob Hoyer and Martin Easton.

The Clayton Museum, 6101 Main St., Clayton, is open Wednesdays and Sundays, 2-4 p.m. and by appointment. For more info, go to