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Letters to Editor

A WWII Vet's Visit To D.C. Memorials

by Judy Roessler

Two years ago the Turning Pages Book Club featured "Once Upon a Town' by Bob Greene as the book of the year-the story of North Platte, Nebraska's service to the WWII servicemen traveling through their town by rail.

One of the gentlemen we met, who had been through North Plate, Jim Allen of Burlington, Iowa, recently traveled to Washington D.C. as part of an Iowa Veterans tour of the memorials.

He wrote to our book club of his journey and gave his permission to publish the following letter:

Dear Judy and Virginia,

I'm sorry I couldn't go on the bus trip you had planned to see the WWII Memorial.

Since that time I have been greatly honored as one of 33 WWII veterans to take a 3 day to Washington on April 24th for that purpose. This was an absolutely free trip that was sponsored by the VFW Club in New London, Iowa.

We boarded a tour bus at 5:30 a.m. on Friday, April 24th being piped aboard between two rows of American flags by a man in kilts playing bagpipes. After boarding we had an escort to Burlington by a police car with lights flashing and 9 motorcycles, the lead one carrying a 3X 5 American flag. After crossing the bridge we had a motorcycle escort all the way to Midway Airport in Chicago. Some motorcyclists would drop off at different places but there would be others there waiting to replace them.

We boarded a 737 jet liner at Midway that took us to Washington. There were 14 veterans that required wheelchairs and these were loaned to us by nursing homes in New London. The oldest veteran on the trip was 95 years old.

One of the veterans was a doctor and there were 5 caregivers that went with us.

After landing in Washington we boarded a tour bus that stayed with us for the 3 days we were touring Washington. Our first stop was the Smithsonian Institute for Airplanes were we saw the, "Enola Gay". This was the airplane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan. A lot of us probably would not be here today if that hadn't had happened because we were, at that time, getting ready for the invasion of Japan.

After a ribeye steak dinner we bedded down in a beautiful Marriott Hotel in Virginia for the first of 2 nights. Saturday was beautiful with a 92 degree temperature. We boarded our bus and visited the WWII Memorial, what a beautiful sight. We took many pictures and had a lot of people that wanted their picture taken with us.

Between the 3 days we were there we visited the Korean and Vietnam Memorials also along with the Iowa Jima Memorial and Roosevelt Memorial. We also toured the Arlington National Cemetery and saw the changing of the guard there. We saw many other things also that are too numerous to mention.

We boarded a 737 jet to return to Chicago and we were greeted at Midway by about 500 people that were clapping their hands, hugging us and making tears come to our eyes. One soldier in dress uniform walked up to me, saluted and said, "Sir, I will be carrying your bags." These were moments I will never forget and when I think about this trip, my eyes still get a little watery. What an emotional roller coaster.

Our return bus was waiting and we arrived in New London at about 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning.

Sincerely,

Thomas James Allen

Burlington, Iowa


Delicious Pies Help With Honor Flight

Dear Editor:

Wed., Sept. 9

This evening as I am recalling the past 24 hours, I can imagine the difference in the local electricity and gas usage as 20 bakers were preparing the many delicious pies for the Pie Day at the American Legion Hall today.

It was a great experience to find so many people willing to share their time, energy and money to help the Legion Post and Auxiliary Unit support the Honor Flight trips to Washington, D.C.

Through their very generous financial support, it was clear that those who came for Pie Day care as deeply as we in the Post and Unit #765 do about this project to help the Honor Flight in its endeavor to send World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial.

Sincerely,

Dorothy Simpson

Proud 59-year member of Unit #765