On May 18, 2017, Young’s Jersey Dairy will host a fundraiser for Honor Flight. They will donate 20 percent of their sales that day between 4 and 6 pm. I learned of this event by talked with Ann Foster who served the United States as a member of the Air Force for 20 years and 21 days. She is now in her seventies, but is one of the gems of our area.
Ann explained that she agreed to move from Lackland AFB to Randolph for a $1.65 per hour raise. She was part of the personnel and administration area of the Air Force and served as a Casualty Notification personnel member during Vietnam. She worked with two families who had loved ones killed in action and two families who had members missing in action who later were found to be Prisoners of War. She is very proud of the Quilt of Honor that was presented to her by the Miami Valley Quilters Guild.
Ann wants everyone to come out and support Honor Flight at Young’s to help raise the “$450 needed for each Guardian” that will accompany a veteran on a flight later this year.
Honor Flight is often the topic at the Enon Village Council meetings as Council Member Rick Hanna is involved with the organization and a number of area residents have seen the benefit of the program often attending the coming home gathering at the Dayton Airport.
Recently Enon resident Ned Clark spoke about his father George Clark who served in World War II. George was a native of Dayton who was born on February 9, 1917 and would have turned 100 this year had he lived. George enlisted in the Navy in 1942 and was recruited to the Seabees the construction team of the Navy. He served in the South Pacific until the end of the war in 1945 when he returned home to Dayton to continue his career as an iron worker.
In addition to his father George, Clark had four uncles (one on his mother’s side) that served during the war. Earl, Paul and Harold all served in the Army in the European theatre. They all made it home to Dayton including his mother’s brother Charles.
Clark marked a milestone in his life on April 12 of this year. That is the day in 1967 when he enlisted in the United States Marines and served proudly in Vietnam in the 1st Marine Division and 1st Regiment assigned to combat. Unlike his father, Clark did not use his skills as an iron worker while in the military. When he returned to Dayton, he met and married his wife Kathy and he completed his degree at Sinclair using the GI Bill.
Many in our community have similar stories of service and family members who did not live long enough to take one of the flights; however they do support the program.
In Urbana while covering the B25 Bomber gathering, I also met Red Kelham a veteran of World War II and Rolla “Ed” Malan who was a survivor of Pearl Harbor. Ed currently resides in Fairborn and traveled to Washington, D. C. on Honor Flight. At 96 Ed gets around pretty well with the help of his friend Ann and local Artist Terri Perkins who has her studio in Fairborn where Ed and Ann paint once a month.
He was part of the crew of the USS Preble who just happened to be in dock that day in December 1941. At the age of 20 he was lucky enough not to be on the ship that day along with the rest of his crew. He was a Machinist Mate in the Navy at the time of the bombing.
Ed met Terri when he first went to her art studio for a class and they have been friends ever since. He is pretty creative in his paintings as seen on social media. Thanks to Terri, Ed returned to Pearl Harbor in September of last year. She worked with Patriot Pinup Miami Valley Chapter to raise the funds needed for the trip which was sponsored by friends and strangers alike. Ed has his own Facebook page that follows his trips around town to meet Honor Flight and other great adventures thanks to Terri. You can learn more about what this young 96 year old is up to by checking out WWII Pearl Harbor Survivor’s Journey on the social media site.
Red was born in the small town of Portersville, OH located near Zanesville. He told me that at the age of 18 years and 2 months, he became a member of the Aviation Cadet Program in February 1944. He was a freshman in high school when the war started and in 1942 his father left the small rural community to head to Dayton to take a job with Frigidaire. This left Red to be the man in charge as the oldest son. His mother, four sisters and a brother depended on him to keep the family going because it took two years for his father to find a house to move the family to Dayton.
After graduation in May of 1944 Red went off to basic training at Ft. Thomas, KY. His family would be moving on June first of that year and it was difficult for them to say goodbye as Red went off with his assignment for the military and the family boarded a train for Dayton where they would live. D-Day happened just as Red was bound by train for Amarillo where he would be based after he had completed Gunnery School. In November, Red left Texas and headed to meet his crew in Florida, he had just a week to visit with the family.
On March 20, 1945 Red boarded the Queen Elizabeth to sail to England along with his B-17 crew members. There were 20,000 men on that ship which included 52 crews for the bombers based in Europe. Red Turned 19 on April 1. On April 4 he joined the 306th Bomber Group.
He married Phyllis Tatman a young woman he met at the skating rink on June 11, 1946 and was discharged on June 20. He spent 62 years with his wife until she passed away. They waited four years to get married because Red wanted to have a little in savings before they married. He has one daughter.
During his time of enlistment, he served as an Aerial Photographer as part of Project Casey Jones. This was the program that allowed the Army Map Service to re-map all of Western Europe and North Africa quickly and accurately shortly after the end of WWII.
Today, at the age of 91 Red is a busy man. He had a little back injury that has him on a scooter and he was difficult to catch up with at the Urbana airport whizzing around the hanger and outside around the aircraft on display. He is a volunteer at the Champaign Aviation Museum. “This is a lifeline for me” said Red of his ability to come to the museum and serve as a guide and to work along the other men who are actively restoring aircraft.
Getting to meet and talk with the veterans was an experience I never expected to have. Talking more with Ned Clark also gave me insight into his father and how he served during the war. My own father was assigned to stay stateside. His skills brought him to the war effort to lay out the armor plate for the Battleship Missouri and other naval vessels in production in the early years of the war. I can remember the men and their tattoos that appeared on forearms indicating service in the Navy or other branches of the military. It was just common place growing up in the 1960’s. We all just heard the stories and had no idea it was a lesson in history we would one day wish we could repeat as adults.
Today those same men and women who served in World War II are predicted to leave us within the next few years. The next generation that has begun to take the flights to our nation’s capital to tour the monuments are veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Tom Brokaw described the men and women I met this past weekend as the “Greatest Generation”. It seems fitting because they grew up during the extremely difficult times of deprivation during the Great Depression and went on to volunteer to join the effort to fight World War II. Many were just teenagers when they went into battle while others stayed at home to supply the soldiers in a time when many things were still scarce. The men were clearly best described by Franklin Delano Roosevelt who said “This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny”.
To learn more about how you can support the efforts to keep Honor Flight in the air, visit their web page at www.honorflight.org.