The Greatest Generation | TheFencePost.com

The Greatest Generation

Barbara Ann Dush
Fullerton, Neb.

Photo By Barbara Ann DushThe 106 degree heat index didn't deter the Nebraska veterans from being present at the Changing of the Guards at Arlington Cemetery. They watched as the relief commander conducted a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon. Looking on are (from left): Willard Phillips and escort Mike Curtis, both of Kearney: Bryce Erickson of Kearney and daughter Susan Stinemetz of Kill City, Kan.; Arleigh Sintek of Mason City; and Deward and Carol McIntosh of Palmer.

It was a three-day journey filled with fresh emotions, hours of conversations immersed in military memories and a brotherhood widened with new friendships.

That was the power of the Central Nebraska Hero Flight in Washington D.C this past June.

Nineteen World War II veterans from 12 central Nebraska communities experienced the trip of a lifetime when they boarded a bus in Kearney on June 8, escorted by the Patriot Riders. “I didn’t expect such an amazing send-off. It was surprising,” said Merlyn Lewis of Litchfield, the only Korean veteran on the trip.

Army veteran Deward McIntosh of Palmer was grateful for the opportunity. “I’m pretty excited about it,” he said as he waited to board the bus with his wife Carol. “I never thought I ever would get to go.”

” I never dreamed I’d get to go,” added Glen Buchta of Broken Bow. “It’s appreciated a lot.”

The group flew out of Omaha to D.C. early the next morning, anticipating a line-up of tours designed specifically in honor of the veterans.

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UPON ARRIVAL at Washington Reagan Airport, the veterans were surprised to be greeted by loud applause and cheers from supporters. “Wasn’t that something,” Army veteran Gerald Minnick of Inavale gleamed. “I was astonished.”

After checking in at the State Plaza Hotel in downtown D.C., the first stop was at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The 32-foot-high sculpture depicts the scene of the flag raising by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman that signaled the successful takeover of the island.

Although there were no Marines on the Hero Flight, for Army veteran Les McCormick of Brewster, the site of the memorial held deep emotion. He was on a mission for his best friend.

“This is even better than I expected. I sure love it,” Les related with mist-covered eyes. “I always wanted to come to see it because of my friend that was in the Marines, Walt Patterson. He served in Iwo Jima … he’s gone now. I kind of get choked up about it. I met Walt after we were out of the military. He always talked about the memorial but never got to see it.”

Although the temperature climbed to 102 degrees with a 106 degree heat index, it didn’t deter these toughened veterans from continuing their tour onto the United States Air Force Memorial. The three towering stainless steel spires, each a different height, the tallest soaring 270 feet high, represent three honor codes: integrity, service before self and excellence in all you do.

At Arlington National Cemetery, established during the American Civil War and now consisting of 624 acres, Nebraska visitors watched the elaborate ritual of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Guard is changed every 30 minutes during the summer and every hour during the winter. The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There has been a Sentinel on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day since 1937.

Mary Scamehorn of Kearney was deeply impressed with the displays at The Women in Military Service for America Memorial. She served in the WAVES and the Naval Reserves, and was the only female veteran on the trip.

“It’s magnificent. I can’t believe it. You can keep adding and adding to it,” Mary said of the Memorial. “You can see it in pictures, but until you actually see it …

“My military experience was exciting and helped to prepare me for my future. It led me to a career.” Mary, who is a retired teacher, said the military is a good avenue for young women to discover a career.

THE WORLD WAR II Memorial was the most anticipated stop, many seeing it for the first time.

Its stalwart immensity and engaging reverence was almost more than the heart could hold at first glance, some of the veterans almost in tears as they made their way into the Memorial. The constant noise of the many fountains gave a restful soothing to the souls filled with the harsh memories of war.

Army veteran Bill Moomey of Kearney, who is one of the survivors of the USS Leopold that was torpedoed and sunk, described the tribute as “awesome.”

“The thing that I like about the Memorial is everybody involved, whether you were in the service, farming or working in a defense plant. They gave up a lot because of rationing. It’s all depicted on this memorial.”

The veterans found themselves to be the stars of the day. An Indiana family stopped to shake the hand of Navy veteran Roland Nyquist of Kearney and asked to hear about his service. Other veterans were also surprised to be stopped by visitors of all ages, wanting to shake their hands and tell them ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice.

“They’re celebrities,” smiled Darwin Hahn of Grand Island, Nyquist’s son-in-law and escort. “What people tell you at home about this Memorial isn’t the same. You have to see it.”

The trip wasn’t complete without walking through the Vietnam Memorial, studying the “beautifully haunting” figures of the Korean War Memorial, and touring the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

THERE WAS ALSO a noon meal at the prestigious Army and Navy Club, known as “the home away from home for the most illustrious names in America’s political and military history” including Presidents and members of Congress. With that in mind, it was only fitting for these war heroes to be greeted with that same respect.

Guests were welcomed by Club President Wilfred “Wil” Ebel, who is originally from Falls City, Neb., and said he loves to tell everyone he’s a Nebraskan. On his official business card are the addresses of the ANC in D.C. and Switzerland; however, in the most prominent spot, the upper left-hand corner, is printed: Ebel Alfalfa Co. Inc., Scribner, NE.

A three-course meal was served with Midwest taste in mind, including fried chicken, barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and apple pie.

The last evening in D.C. concluded with a banquet at the State Plaza Hotel. One of the speakers was Galen Jackman, retired United States Army Major General, best known for his role as escort for First Lady Nancy Reagan during the state funeral of her husband, President Ronald Reagan.

Jackman, a UN-L graduate, is proud of his ties to Nebraska. He told the veterans “you are that generation that built the America that we have today,” and gave them his most humble respect.

At the end of the banquet, Roland Nyquist led the group in a resounding and emotional God Bless America.

“The trip was wonderful,” Roland said as he looked back at his Hero experience. “It’s the unexpected things you remember. I was so surprised when the people from Indiana came up to talk to me and wanted their picture taken with me, and kids would come up to say thank you. I told the kids not to forget what you see here, not to forget the World War II veterans.”

The Hero Flight returned home June 11. Many stories were unfolded during the veterans’ time together, some of the toughest memories told for the first time. But Army veteran Chris Vinderslev of Friend, stationed in occupied Japan during his service, uttered a humble reminder of those war times: “Soldiers don’t tell you everything.”

It was a three-day journey filled with fresh emotions, hours of conversations immersed in military memories and a brotherhood widened with new friendships.

That was the power of the Central Nebraska Hero Flight in Washington D.C this past June.

Nineteen World War II veterans from 12 central Nebraska communities experienced the trip of a lifetime when they boarded a bus in Kearney on June 8, escorted by the Patriot Riders. “I didn’t expect such an amazing send-off. It was surprising,” said Merlyn Lewis of Litchfield, the only Korean veteran on the trip.

Army veteran Deward McIntosh of Palmer was grateful for the opportunity. “I’m pretty excited about it,” he said as he waited to board the bus with his wife Carol. “I never thought I ever would get to go.”

” I never dreamed I’d get to go,” added Glen Buchta of Broken Bow. “It’s appreciated a lot.”

The group flew out of Omaha to D.C. early the next morning, anticipating a line-up of tours designed specifically in honor of the veterans.

UPON ARRIVAL at Washington Reagan Airport, the veterans were surprised to be greeted by loud applause and cheers from supporters. “Wasn’t that something,” Army veteran Gerald Minnick of Inavale gleamed. “I was astonished.”

After checking in at the State Plaza Hotel in downtown D.C., the first stop was at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The 32-foot-high sculpture depicts the scene of the flag raising by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman that signaled the successful takeover of the island.

Although there were no Marines on the Hero Flight, for Army veteran Les McCormick of Brewster, the site of the memorial held deep emotion. He was on a mission for his best friend.

“This is even better than I expected. I sure love it,” Les related with mist-covered eyes. “I always wanted to come to see it because of my friend that was in the Marines, Walt Patterson. He served in Iwo Jima … he’s gone now. I kind of get choked up about it. I met Walt after we were out of the military. He always talked about the memorial but never got to see it.”

Although the temperature climbed to 102 degrees with a 106 degree heat index, it didn’t deter these toughened veterans from continuing their tour onto the United States Air Force Memorial. The three towering stainless steel spires, each a different height, the tallest soaring 270 feet high, represent three honor codes: integrity, service before self and excellence in all you do.

At Arlington National Cemetery, established during the American Civil War and now consisting of 624 acres, Nebraska visitors watched the elaborate ritual of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Guard is changed every 30 minutes during the summer and every hour during the winter. The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There has been a Sentinel on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day since 1937.

Mary Scamehorn of Kearney was deeply impressed with the displays at The Women in Military Service for America Memorial. She served in the WAVES and the Naval Reserves, and was the only female veteran on the trip.

“It’s magnificent. I can’t believe it. You can keep adding and adding to it,” Mary said of the Memorial. “You can see it in pictures, but until you actually see it …

“My military experience was exciting and helped to prepare me for my future. It led me to a career.” Mary, who is a retired teacher, said the military is a good avenue for young women to discover a career.

THE WORLD WAR II Memorial was the most anticipated stop, many seeing it for the first time.

Its stalwart immensity and engaging reverence was almost more than the heart could hold at first glance, some of the veterans almost in tears as they made their way into the Memorial. The constant noise of the many fountains gave a restful soothing to the souls filled with the harsh memories of war.

Army veteran Bill Moomey of Kearney, who is one of the survivors of the USS Leopold that was torpedoed and sunk, described the tribute as “awesome.”

“The thing that I like about the Memorial is everybody involved, whether you were in the service, farming or working in a defense plant. They gave up a lot because of rationing. It’s all depicted on this memorial.”

The veterans found themselves to be the stars of the day. An Indiana family stopped to shake the hand of Navy veteran Roland Nyquist of Kearney and asked to hear about his service. Other veterans were also surprised to be stopped by visitors of all ages, wanting to shake their hands and tell them ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice.

“They’re celebrities,” smiled Darwin Hahn of Grand Island, Nyquist’s son-in-law and escort. “What people tell you at home about this Memorial isn’t the same. You have to see it.”

The trip wasn’t complete without walking through the Vietnam Memorial, studying the “beautifully haunting” figures of the Korean War Memorial, and touring the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

THERE WAS ALSO a noon meal at the prestigious Army and Navy Club, known as “the home away from home for the most illustrious names in America’s political and military history” including Presidents and members of Congress. With that in mind, it was only fitting for these war heroes to be greeted with that same respect.

Guests were welcomed by Club President Wilfred “Wil” Ebel, who is originally from Falls City, Neb., and said he loves to tell everyone he’s a Nebraskan. On his official business card are the addresses of the ANC in D.C. and Switzerland; however, in the most prominent spot, the upper left-hand corner, is printed: Ebel Alfalfa Co. Inc., Scribner, NE.

A three-course meal was served with Midwest taste in mind, including fried chicken, barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and apple pie.

The last evening in D.C. concluded with a banquet at the State Plaza Hotel. One of the speakers was Galen Jackman, retired United States Army Major General, best known for his role as escort for First Lady Nancy Reagan during the state funeral of her husband, President Ronald Reagan.

Jackman, a UN-L graduate, is proud of his ties to Nebraska. He told the veterans “you are that generation that built the America that we have today,” and gave them his most humble respect.

At the end of the banquet, Roland Nyquist led the group in a resounding and emotional God Bless America.

“The trip was wonderful,” Roland said as he looked back at his Hero experience. “It’s the unexpected things you remember. I was so surprised when the people from Indiana came up to talk to me and wanted their picture taken with me, and kids would come up to say thank you. I told the kids not to forget what you see here, not to forget the World War II veterans.”

The Hero Flight returned home June 11. Many stories were unfolded during the veterans’ time together, some of the toughest memories told for the first time. But Army veteran Chris Vinderslev of Friend, stationed in occupied Japan during his service, uttered a humble reminder of those war times: “Soldiers don’t tell you everything.”

It was a three-day journey filled with fresh emotions, hours of conversations immersed in military memories and a brotherhood widened with new friendships.

That was the power of the Central Nebraska Hero Flight in Washington D.C this past June.

Nineteen World War II veterans from 12 central Nebraska communities experienced the trip of a lifetime when they boarded a bus in Kearney on June 8, escorted by the Patriot Riders. “I didn’t expect such an amazing send-off. It was surprising,” said Merlyn Lewis of Litchfield, the only Korean veteran on the trip.

Army veteran Deward McIntosh of Palmer was grateful for the opportunity. “I’m pretty excited about it,” he said as he waited to board the bus with his wife Carol. “I never thought I ever would get to go.”

” I never dreamed I’d get to go,” added Glen Buchta of Broken Bow. “It’s appreciated a lot.”

The group flew out of Omaha to D.C. early the next morning, anticipating a line-up of tours designed specifically in honor of the veterans.

UPON ARRIVAL at Washington Reagan Airport, the veterans were surprised to be greeted by loud applause and cheers from supporters. “Wasn’t that something,” Army veteran Gerald Minnick of Inavale gleamed. “I was astonished.”

After checking in at the State Plaza Hotel in downtown D.C., the first stop was at the Iwo Jima Memorial. The 32-foot-high sculpture depicts the scene of the flag raising by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman that signaled the successful takeover of the island.

Although there were no Marines on the Hero Flight, for Army veteran Les McCormick of Brewster, the site of the memorial held deep emotion. He was on a mission for his best friend.

“This is even better than I expected. I sure love it,” Les related with mist-covered eyes. “I always wanted to come to see it because of my friend that was in the Marines, Walt Patterson. He served in Iwo Jima … he’s gone now. I kind of get choked up about it. I met Walt after we were out of the military. He always talked about the memorial but never got to see it.”

Although the temperature climbed to 102 degrees with a 106 degree heat index, it didn’t deter these toughened veterans from continuing their tour onto the United States Air Force Memorial. The three towering stainless steel spires, each a different height, the tallest soaring 270 feet high, represent three honor codes: integrity, service before self and excellence in all you do.

At Arlington National Cemetery, established during the American Civil War and now consisting of 624 acres, Nebraska visitors watched the elaborate ritual of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

The Guard is changed every 30 minutes during the summer and every hour during the winter. The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There has been a Sentinel on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day since 1937.

Mary Scamehorn of Kearney was deeply impressed with the displays at The Women in Military Service for America Memorial. She served in the WAVES and the Naval Reserves, and was the only female veteran on the trip.

“It’s magnificent. I can’t believe it. You can keep adding and adding to it,” Mary said of the Memorial. “You can see it in pictures, but until you actually see it …

“My military experience was exciting and helped to prepare me for my future. It led me to a career.” Mary, who is a retired teacher, said the military is a good avenue for young women to discover a career.

THE WORLD WAR II Memorial was the most anticipated stop, many seeing it for the first time.

Its stalwart immensity and engaging reverence was almost more than the heart could hold at first glance, some of the veterans almost in tears as they made their way into the Memorial. The constant noise of the many fountains gave a restful soothing to the souls filled with the harsh memories of war.

Army veteran Bill Moomey of Kearney, who is one of the survivors of the USS Leopold that was torpedoed and sunk, described the tribute as “awesome.”

“The thing that I like about the Memorial is everybody involved, whether you were in the service, farming or working in a defense plant. They gave up a lot because of rationing. It’s all depicted on this memorial.”

The veterans found themselves to be the stars of the day. An Indiana family stopped to shake the hand of Navy veteran Roland Nyquist of Kearney and asked to hear about his service. Other veterans were also surprised to be stopped by visitors of all ages, wanting to shake their hands and tell them ‘thank you’ for their sacrifice.

“They’re celebrities,” smiled Darwin Hahn of Grand Island, Nyquist’s son-in-law and escort. “What people tell you at home about this Memorial isn’t the same. You have to see it.”

The trip wasn’t complete without walking through the Vietnam Memorial, studying the “beautifully haunting” figures of the Korean War Memorial, and touring the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

THERE WAS ALSO a noon meal at the prestigious Army and Navy Club, known as “the home away from home for the most illustrious names in America’s political and military history” including Presidents and members of Congress. With that in mind, it was only fitting for these war heroes to be greeted with that same respect.

Guests were welcomed by Club President Wilfred “Wil” Ebel, who is originally from Falls City, Neb., and said he loves to tell everyone he’s a Nebraskan. On his official business card are the addresses of the ANC in D.C. and Switzerland; however, in the most prominent spot, the upper left-hand corner, is printed: Ebel Alfalfa Co. Inc., Scribner, NE.

A three-course meal was served with Midwest taste in mind, including fried chicken, barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and apple pie.

The last evening in D.C. concluded with a banquet at the State Plaza Hotel. One of the speakers was Galen Jackman, retired United States Army Major General, best known for his role as escort for First Lady Nancy Reagan during the state funeral of her husband, President Ronald Reagan.

Jackman, a UN-L graduate, is proud of his ties to Nebraska. He told the veterans “you are that generation that built the America that we have today,” and gave them his most humble respect.

At the end of the banquet, Roland Nyquist led the group in a resounding and emotional God Bless America.

“The trip was wonderful,” Roland said as he looked back at his Hero experience. “It’s the unexpected things you remember. I was so surprised when the people from Indiana came up to talk to me and wanted their picture taken with me, and kids would come up to say thank you. I told the kids not to forget what you see here, not to forget the World War II veterans.”

The Hero Flight returned home June 11. Many stories were unfolded during the veterans’ time together, some of the toughest memories told for the first time. But Army veteran Chris Vinderslev of Friend, stationed in occupied Japan during his service, uttered a humble reminder of those war times: “Soldiers don’t tell you everything.”