Joe Golfman, a 91-year-old resident of Monroe Township who has lived in the same house for 64 years and is a decorated WWII Veteran, is well-known in his community for his patriotism and service to his country.
However, he is also well-known for being a dedicated volunteer within the community.
“I was 23-years-old when I was drafted. That was in July of 1942,” Golfman said. “My wife and I had only been married 18 months when I got drafted.”
"I didn't know anything about the Army but I was determined to learn everything I could about it," he said. "By the end of 1943 I was made platoon sergeant."
Golfman said he was proud to be serving in General Patton's Army in Europe.
"One of things I remember about General Patton was his tenacity. He believed once you had them on the run keep them going. Don't give them a chance to stop and dig in. And he liked to surround them, too. Cut their supply lines off. My rank then was Technical Sergeant," he said.
Golfman's time in the Army took him through France, Luxemburg, and to the Battle of the Bulge.
"I was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. I was wounded three times actually. I got a piece of shrapnel in my knee when I was in France. I also got hit in the right arm when I was in France," he said.
The wound Golfman suffered from most, he said, was when he was fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.
"That time they blew a hole clean through my thigh and they flew me to a hospital in England," Golfman said.
After spending six weeks in the hospital and six weeks in rehabilitation, Golfman said he went back over to France. From there he went back to the front line in Austria.
"That was the day the war ended. My lucky day!" he said.
When asked what he felt was a memorable event while serving in the army during WWII he quickly recalled an event that occurred at the end of the war.
"In Austria I took part in guarding 150,000 German troops that surrendered to us," said Golfman.
"As far as some fun I had, well, I remember a time when we (the troops) were on a train in Yuma, Arizona, that was going to take us from there to Fort Dix, New Jersey. We were supposed to get on a train at six o'clock in the morning. We were there in the desert until nine o'clock that night. So we set up a softball team," he said. "Some of the guys had gloves. A few of them had balls and a bat, so we played softball out there in the desert. It was a lot of fun."
Golfman came out of the army with more than a few medals. Golfman said he was awarded three purple hearts, four Bronze Stars, a Bronze Star with a Valor Device, a Good Conduct Medal, WWII Medal, American Campaign Medal, two Combat Infantry Badges and a European Theatre of Operations Medal. Golfman says he is still eligible for his sharpshooter medal but has not gotten around to sending for it.
The Bronze Star with the Valor device was awarded to Golfman for getting two wounded men out of the line of fire while in France. Golfman is humble when referred to as a war hero. He claims, "It was all in the line of duty. Something you do without giving a second thought about what might happen to yourself. All I saw was two of my men in trouble."
Golfman says he appreciates his time in the Army for several reasons.
"Being in the Army makes you a better person. It also makes you appreciate what you've got back here. I've been in several countries over there and I wouldn't trade all of them for this one."
The experience gained in the Army is appreciated by Golfman, however he also adds, with a bit of humor, "It's an experience I wouldn't take a million dollars for but wouldn't want to go through it again for a hundred million!"
Even though his military experience is one he is proud of, Golfman believes he is known in the community more for his volunteerism than his accomplishments in the military.
"In 2005 I was given an award for Outstanding Citizen by Monroe Township. A teacher in the community also purchased a brick with my name on it. That is in a brick wall by the gazebo at the school."
Some of Golfman's volunteering was involvement in sports.
"I coached my grandson knothole baseball team when I was 75 years. That was in New Richmond."
Golfman also volunteers consistently at Monroe elementary schools.
"He is called room grandpa instead of room mother," his daughter, Jeanie Rufft said. "During Christmas he plays Santa for the school. When they have field days at the school he is there everyday, all day long. He has been volunteering for the schools for the past 25 years."
Ruff adds that he helps in the church he attends regularly.
"He helped remodel the kitchen at Laurel United Methodist Church in Monroe Township as well. That's just a few of the things he does in the community. He is a very dedicated father and well loved grandfather."
Golfman has another daughter, Sandra Pearon, who also lives in Monroe Township. He has two grandchildren and two great grandchildren as well. He also adds that he was married to his wife, Shirley, for 50 years and 5 weeks. She passed away 19 years ago.
"My dad says he's the best man in the world," his great-granddaughter, Katie, said. "He's going to build me a tree house today. He's so nice."
Golfman still displays his patriotic loyalty by belonging to the Disabled American Vets and riding in the Fourth of July Parade every year. He also decorates his grandmothers grave every year.
"My brother told me as long as I was alive he knew her grave would always be taken care of," he said.
Through the years Golfman has been a business owner. He and his father owned a Dairy Bar on the Ohio River and a gas station.
"I was in the construction business for awhile and then went to work for Milacron. I retired from there after 31 years," he said.
Golfman says he is used to people being surprised by his age.
"They tell me I don't look like I am 91. I keep going and that keeps me young!"