THE IMPORTANCE OF HONOR FLIGHTS AND OUR AGING VETS
A unique opportunity to pay our respects to our country’s WWII and Korean War veterans presented itself this week. Clint Rigsby, a Senior Landscape Architect in our Greenville, SC office, shared a news video of an Upstate South Carolina Honor Flight that carried his grandfather, James “Jimmy” Williams, Jr., USN and other WWII and Korean War vets to Washington D.C. to visit the memorials established in their honor. These vets have never had the opportunity to see these important monuments dedicated to their sacrifice‑an oversight that is being addressed by the Honor Flight Network.
THE HONOR FLIGHT NETWORK ORGANIZATION
Established in 2005, the Honor Flight Network works to make sure that each of our nation’s veterans, who want to participate, can. Between 1941 and 1945, approximately 16 million Americans served in the military. Today there are approximately 1 million surviving WWII veterans with an estimated daily loss of 550. The Korean War saw 5,720,000 men and women in uniform but today just over 2 million survive. In recognition of the decreasing number these veterans, the HFN assigned Priority 1 status to the men and women who served in WWII, with its second priority Korean War and then Vietnam War vets. Terminally ill veterans of any war who have not visited the monuments in our nation’s capital are assigned a Priority 1 designation. It is the organization’s intent to continue to add veterans from other wars in chronological order—Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars respectively.
Funded completely by donation, the non-profit group coordinates hundreds of flights from all over the county. Based on the statistics of surviving vets, it is important to note that the organization is working hard to provide trips for all who want them. In fact, in September 2014 alone, 48 Honor Flights are scheduled.
SEAMON WHITESIDE’S RESPONSE
Hearing Clint’s granddad’s story, SW+ was inspired to compile a list of our colleague’s relatives who gave of themselves during World War II and the Korean War, hoping to share this post with our families. The list of family members who interrupted their lives, left their homes and jobs in order to serve this country in a time of great need is impressive indeed. Individual stories include a founding member of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilot program, a member of the crew of the ‘Big E’, the USS Enterprise CV-6 who was there for the Battle of Midway and Leyte Gulf, a soldier who participated in D-Day and a cartographer attached to Admiral Nimitz command in August 1945.
We also have discovered another grandfather who has enjoyed his own Honor Flight; this one out of Ohio in 2012. When we receive a copy of that video, we will update this post to include it.
Several of our military relatives were called back to duty for the Korean War, 1950-1953. Others who saw their fathers and grandfathers go off to war just a few years earlier, enlisted for their own service. Our SW+ family’s Korean War vets include an war experienced sailor, an Army medic, US Army Airborne paratroopers, a flight mechanic and a couple of combat pilots. Backing those combat troops, there are many whose service was in crucial support activities.
Each serviceman and woman has a special story about their wartime experiences and each deserves special recognition for their actions. This article is just one of the many ways we have to offer our thanks and eternal respect to those who fought for our way of life and the security of our nation. Please join us in celebrating the lives and sacrifices of our vets, living and passed.
World War II
Richard Lichty Thompson, USN, USS Enterprise CV-6 (Midway, Letye Gulf), Pacific Theater
Avon Earl Thompson, USN, USS Barnes ACV-20, Pacific Theater
Ralph Bridges, US Army, European Theater
William Alfred Merritt, US Navy Seabee, Pacific Theater
William T. Eubanks, USMC, Corporal
James Williams, Jr, USN
Heber Blaine “Bud’ Blankhead, US Army Air Corp, Lt. Col., Pilot, 99th Bombardment Group, North Africa
Rudolph Vernon Yates, USN, Gunners Mate 2c, USS Trever DD 339, Pacific Theater
Leroy Blackwell, US Merchant Marines, 1st Mate, Oil Tanker, Pacific Theater
Grady L. Patterson Jr., US Army Air Corps, Fighter Pilot (P51-Mustang), Flew Sorties from Iwo Jima to Japan
James T. O’Neal, Jr., US Army, Participated in D-Day, European Theater
William Grice Gresham, Jr., US Army Artillery, Europe Theater
Thane Lechlitner, USN, 3rd Class, Flight Mechanic, Shanghi, China, Pacific Theater
John R. Timmons, Flight Surgeon, Amazon, Pacific Theater
Alice Lovejoy, WASP, Ferry Pilot, KIA 1944, Brownsville, TX
David Peterson, USN, Cartographer, Admiral Nimitz Staff, PACNAV Guam
Nels Stjern, US Merchant Marines, 2nd Asst Engineer, North Sea, Europe Theater
Claude David Hiott, Sr., USN, Chief, USS Vincennes CA-44 (Survivor); USS Iowa (Okinawa, Tokyo Bay)
Wendell Edward Ackerman, US Army, Sgt. Paratroop, European Theater
Joseph M. Bryant, USN
Clifford F. Messal, USN, Seabee, CM1c, NOB Argentia,1942; Navy Base Roger, 1943
Dr George Washington Brunson, Army Air Corps, Major, Flight Surgeon, Pacific Theater
Dermot Doyle, US Army Air Corp, S1c, USS Albermarle AV-5, North Africa
Ernest W. Hautala, US Army, Medic
Theodore Moss III, USN
Thomas James Dugan, USN
Frederick John Martschink, Jr. (Fred), US Army, SSgt, 66th Infantry “Panther” Division, Survivor of sinking of the SS Léopoldville by Uboat, 12/24/1944, European Theater
John M. Gastley, US Army, Alaska
Francis J. Langan, US Army Medic, Korea, US Army, Medic, Korea
Merrell Gene Howell, US Army Airborne, Korea
Robert Chester Thompson, USAF, Airman, Hamilton Air Force Base, San Pablo Bay
John H. Guess, US Army, 2LT, 24th Infantry Division, 19th Infantry Regt., Korea
Grady Leslie Patterson Jr, SC Air National Guard, Lt Gen, Fighter Pilot, Korea
Thane Lechlitner, USN, Flight Mechanic, Transport Squadron (R4D planes), Hawaii
Claude David Hiott, Sr., USN
Wendell Edward Ackerman, US Army, Paratroop, , Korea
Rick Campeau, USAF, SSGT, Control Tower Chief, Shaw Air Force Base
John Foster Ruth, USAF, 1st Lt., Biggs Air Force Base, El Paso
Jack Hautala, USMC, Cpl, Military Police – MOS 5831, Korea