Phillipsville shows colors for Veterans Day

Throughout Humboldt County, communities came out to remember our veterans past and present. Hank Toborg has been the Fire Chief of Phillipsville for over 30 years. Toborg watched as Americans came together to support each other for the fallen of Sept. 11 and then over time how that remembrance began to dwindle.

Therefore, Toborg, being a Vet himself decided to make sure at least down the Avenue of the Giants at Phillipsville the fallen and current military would not be forgotten. "The flags just kind of stopped and I just don't think we should forget that," Toborg said.

Toborg said he went to the local hardware store and worked out a discounted rate for a case of flags.

"Throughout the year during days of remembrance including Veteran's Day and Sept. 11, I along with help from other volunteers place over 45 flags down the old Redwood Highway coming into, throughout, and leaving Phillipsville," he said.

Toborg was originally from New York where he worked as a plumber. When he reached draft age he made the decision to volunteer. Toborg served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1971 as a Calvary Scout.

"I still feel like it was the right decision," he said. "I am very proud of my choice and proud to be a conservative American veteran."

Karen Helser has been a resident of Phillipsville for over 27 years and says she thinks the flags are awesome.

"I think it is great how Hank does this in our community for the vets," she said. "Hank is good people and the soldiers are the ones out protecting us so we can live free like this."

Toborg builds the ground pegs out of EMT electrical conduit. "It is cost effective and seems to hold up over the years," he said.

Over the years people have stolen flags and they have had to be replaced. On Memorial Day, flags were stolen and the Toborg's local Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States Post #6354 donated money to replace the flags. The Garberville area Post has about 30 veterans, including the VFW, American Legion, and Honor Guard.

Monday, Veterans Day, Toborg organized their annual buffet dinner at the Riverwood Inn to honor the local vets and this year recognize their oldest member, 87-year-old World War II POW Tom McMan.

The dinner event also hosts a "Missing Man Table," which according to Toborg is an old Calvary tradition.

"We set up a plate to honor the ones that cannot be there," he said. "Not only do we have the table, but we still say a prayer remembering those that cannot be there. Veterans Day honors all vets, Memorial Day remembers those whom we have lost, and we always want to remember those whom we have lost."

Toborg said that if his efforts can make Phillipsville a better community, it's all worth it.

"I love it here in the redwoods and the mountains," he said. "I often recall the words of JFK -- 'Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country' -- and that is what I try to do," Toborg said.

Events in Phillipsville will continue for years to come. If you would like to help by donating flags, money to purchase flags, or to help fund the annual dinner that the veterans currently pay their own way to attend, contact Hank Toborg at 616-3107.

Photos by Heather Nyberg-Schlotzhauer/Beacon

Hank Toborg stands with one of over 45 flags that lines the Old Redwood Highway that stretches through Phillipsville. American and POW flags were seen on both sides of the road over the Veterans Day holiday.