LIVING LIFE WELL
Recently, Raymond Mohr, of Macungie, treated the IronPigs fans at Coca-Cola Park to his rendition of “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. Mohr is neither a professional singer nor a candidate running for office. He is a 99-year-old World War II veteran who sang in honor of United States veterans.
Mohr has become a local celebrity. As of the date of this interview, the video of his performance had received over 500,000 Internet views and gone viral. (To view Mohr’s presentation, Google 99 year old veteran sings God Bless America.)
When asked what prompted him to perform, Mohr chuckled and replied, “I’ve been planning on this for years.”
Gifted with an engaging sense of humor and an excellent memory, Mohr recounts his wartime experiences clearly.
A lifetime Lehigh Valley resident, Mohr was one of the first four area recruits to join the war effort. The day before he shipped out, Mohr married Clara Kelchner.
Money was scarce so the wedding meal consisted of oranges and ring bologna. He left for the Army the following day, the same day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The newlyweds would not see each other again for three years. The bride saved and planted seeds from the wedding meal oranges – a romantic gesture that produced a long-lived orange tree.
As a member of the U.S. Army’s 29th Division, Mohr served in England and Europe. He recalls he was walking down the street and unexpectedly ran into one of his three brothers also serving in the military. When Operation Overlord was initiated, Mohr fought in the Battle of Normandy.
Although part of a pivotal historical moment, Mohr retains his perspective. He describes his experiences as “big events in the lives of little men.”
After the armistice, Mohr returned home to Clara. Together they raised two children and watched their family grow. (Mohr currently has five grandsons and eight great-grandchildren.)
Mohr worked most of his adult life as a beloved custodian for the East Penn School District. A great reader and highly self-educated, Mohr decided at age 60 to take the General Equivalency Diploma test and earn his high school diploma.
Then, when he was 90, Mohr and his grandson Jeffery Lindenmuth traveled to France, back to Normandy Beach. As a favor to a neighbor, Mohr located and placed flowers on the final resting place of Frank D. Pregory, the neighbor’s brother who was killed in the Battle of Normandy.
In recognition of Mohr’s service, several years ago the French Government awarded him the French Medal of Honor, France’s highest award for foreigners.
Although willing to reminisce, Mohr also plans for the future. He will be celebrating his centennial birthday by singing the “Star Spangled Banner” for the 2019 IronPigs season opener at Coca-Cola Park – an event not to be missed!