Chehalis man marks D-Day by playing Taps at grave of father, a World War II veteran

Ken Dobler, a Vietnam veteran, urges younger generations to remember sacrifices of those who served


As many around the world commemorated the 80th anniversary of the World War II D-Day allied invasion at Normandy, France, on Thursday, June 6, U.S. Marine Corps Vietnam War veteran Ken Dobler, of Chehalis, visited his father’s grave at Claquato Cemetery to play taps.

Eugene Dobler Sr., a Marine and WWII veteran who died in 2004, didn’t participate in the D-Day invasion, but is connected to the date, as it is his birthday. Ken returns to the cemetery every year to play Taps in his memory.   

This year, he was joined by his sister, Jennie Roberts, along with her husband.

While Eugene survived WWII, he never shared much about his own experiences during the war with his children, as was often the case back then. What they do know, they learned from their mother.

“He was barely 5 feet tall. His nickname was Peewee,” Jennie said. “And he could jump up into the tanks like you wouldn’t believe.”

While not directly involved with D-Day, on the day of the invasion in 1944, Eugene was somewhere in WWII’s Pacific Theater fighting in the gruelingly brutal island hopping campaign carried out against Imperial Japanese forces.

Ken and Jennie believe he was in Okinawa and possibly Guadalcanal.

“That’s the thing, we don’t know because he never told us,” Ken said.

“We didn’t even try to ask him,” Jennie added.

While preparing to play Taps, Ken explained he also plays it for all the other veterans at Claquato, including two of his father’s friends, U.S. Army WWII veteran Curt Marlton and Marine Korean War veteran Jack Williams.

“Jack was like another dad to me, big brother kind of thing,” Ken said.

Though they don’t know much about their father’s own time in the service, they encouraged younger generations to talk to older veterans and learn their stories. Ken recently attended the burial of another veteran in Mossyrock to learn more himself.

“People that don’t go to those things. They don’t know, they don’t see and they don’t feel it,” Ken added.

Additionally, in today’s political climate with protests taking place across the nation’s universities, including some involving flag burning, Ken urged those participating to remember sacrifices made by those in the military.

“People don’t remember what they have here now,” he said.

The D-Day operation of June 6, 1944, brought together the land, air, and sea forces of the allied armies in what became known as the largest amphibious invasion in military history.