Two stars, one flag

The flag that flies over Cindy and Wayne Sendelbach’s home has been flying there for more than 35 years. Oct. 6 of this year, it will be flying five years longer than they have been married.

The location of the flagpole may have changed over the years, with three boys growing up and playing in the built-in pool and with the expansion of their kitchen, but the tradition of having a flag flying proudly on their property has never changed.

There are two stars behind their stripes. Both of their fathers served in World War II and the roles of these men complemented each other during the war.

Cindy’s father, Herbert Behrens, was a member of the 34th photo reconnaissance squadron that helped leaders plan the next stages of the war, including pictures of several possible locations for the Normandy invasion, D-Day, in 1944. If not for the efforts of the Flying Monkeys, as they were called, many more men would have lost their lives on the battlefield.

Wayne’s father, Herman Sendelbach, was a key member of ‘A’ company of the 741st Tank Battalion, nicknamed Hell on Wheels. Herman drove the tank from the top of the sand at Omaha beach in 1944 to under the Eiffel tower during the liberation of Paris Aug. 25, 1944. In between, there was Bastogne, Ardiennes, St. Vith and many others.

There were many awards earned by the 741st, including six Distinguished Crosses, 28 Silver Stars, 217 Bronze Stars and 374 purple hearts, with Herman and his captain receiving two of these when he was blown out of his tank during a battle in Northern France.

The piece of shrapnel that was lodged in his chin was a reminder of the victory.

Herman couldn’t have had the victories without the photos from the efforts of Herbert’s squadron, and Herbert’s squadron was thankful for the resilency of Herman’s battalion.

As is consistent with many women and men who have been protecting our freedom for the past 236 years, they didn’t talk about the events of the war with family members; those discussions were saved for the many WWII reunions of their respective units that Herbert and Herman attended over the years.

Herbert died July 17, 2009, at the age of 85, and Herman died in March 2012 at the age of 91. Both men were buried with full military honors.

This author is very thankful for both of them, and also for Cindy and Wayne, to let us share in the glorious light emanating from the stars behind their stripes.

John Schupp is an assistant professor of chemistry at Tiffin University. Email him at schuppjd@