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A life well lived

Vic Lattin's legacy lives on at Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm

Victor Lattin’s flagpole flies over his farm near Tumwater. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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Like many young men of his generation, Victor Lattin was drafted into the United States Army during World War II. On Aug. 26, 1942, at the age of 21, he entered the Army from Tacoma and trained as a radio operator at Camp Crowder, Missouri.

According to his wife, Carolyn Lattin, at some point he was sent to England to prepare for the invasion of Normandy which took place June 6, 1944, and became known as D-Day. In an event which was to have a profound effect on his future, he began experiencing excruciating stomach pains on the evening of June 5, 1944. The pains continued to worsen and he was sent to the field hospital where he was diagnosed with appendicitis. While his unit finished preparations to deploy, he underwent an emergency appendectomy.  The results of D-Day were catastrophic for his unit which was decimated during the initial invasion.  

After recovering from surgery, Victor continued his service in England and later in France where, according to Carolyn, he served as an MP directing traffic.  "He was a good man and he never drank. Vic (as he was known by family and friends) would sell his cigarette allowance to other soldiers and then use the money to buy food for all the starving people," she said.  He was discharged Feb. 21, 1946, and came home to Washington to start his life.

Victor met Carolyn and they married.  In 1956, they purchased a farm and raised four children - two boys and two girls. In addition to full time jobs, the two established a successful business with the farm.  Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm has become a beloved Thurston County institution renowned for its apple fritters and cider.

"He loved those boys from the fort (Fort Lewis) and could not do enough for them. If he saw a soldier who ran out of gas, he would stop to help him.  Over the years, we often had soldiers from the fort out to the farm," said Carolyn.  "Vic never got over the war.  When we would see something on D-Day, he would tear up and he never forgot the friends and unit that he lost. He always questioned why he survived and his friends did not." Carolyn has continued the support to the military, and just last week, hosted a group of military spouses and children whose soldiers are deployed.

Victor Lattin passed away in 2002 at the age of 80. He was a treasured member of the local community.  "People wanted to make donations in honor of him and we said no, but they insisted.  It ended up being $1,000.  Vic was always putting flags up on the property and they would blow away, but he kept doing it.  He wanted a flagpole but it was an expensive item, we just couldn't afford with all the costs of the farm, said Carolyn.  She used the money donated by the community and had a flagpole installed at the farm.  "Oh, I know he would be pleased with it.  I know he is just looking down and smiling."

Carolyn continues to run the business they founded together with the help of her two daughters. The farm is open daily to visitors, and each day an American flag proudly waves from Victor's flagpole.

Lattin's Country Cider Mill and Farm, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday-Saturday, 9402 Rich Rd. SE, Olympia, 360.491.7328

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