Honor Flight Veterans Return to a Warm Welcome
Hundreds of World War II Era veterans are treated to a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorial. It's a journey that has been repeated several times before, but never gets old.
Most veterans are modest about their service, but often what details they won't tell you, their families will.
Waiting for their heroes to come back from the latest Honor Flight at General Mitchell International Airport on a day that began 15 hours before, families wearing shirts with much younger faces in uniform are eager to share who they are waiting for.
Richard Lyon of Glendale had a whole posse of family members, identifiable by gray shirts bearing his picture from the United States Navy. He served on the USS Requin, a naval submarine, in the Pacific theatre, although his enlistment would come just as surrender was declared. He had first attempted to enlist as a 16-year-old, lying about his age. However, his mother found out before he could ship out, and promised she would sign for him to join in another year.
His wife, Corrine, explained that she was a USO hostess when they met. Ironically, about 20 years later their daughter Kathleen would meet her future husband while she was also volunteering as a USO hostess. The couple had eight children, 21 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
Cletus Campbell of Muskego originally told us that he didn't have much to tell, as his service came in 1946. However, his family explained that he was eager to enlist, and at the age of 17, he hitchhiked from Park Falls to Superior—about 150 miles—in order to do so. However, being underage he needed a parent's signature. He promptly hitchhiked back to Park Falls to get it.
One of three brothers to serve in the World War II era, Campbell continued on with the Department of Defense as a civilian, and taught the 'army brats' in military schools in Nuremburg, Germany. He remained in that capacity until 1990.
His family was obviously proud of his service, and excited to tell about their upbringing overseas.
"I used to play tennis with Patton's granddaughter," said Colleen Raupp, one of Campbell's six children. She and sisters Caren Voors, Christa Ballio and Cay Lewandowski live in Muskego as well.
There were hundreds more stories to tell, from hundreds of proud families. No doubt they were shared many times over from veteran to veteran, family to family. Hearing just a few was an honor and a privilege.