Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Jean Doran Matua, Editor
Early morning Sunday, Sept. 4, a group of people converged on the Holiday Inn in St. Cloud. Thirty-three veterans, their spouses and families, and 22 "guardians" (helpers) met each other, many for the first time.
By 5:30 a.m. the veterans and helpers boarded a Voight Bus headed for the Minneapolis airport. They arrived at the Baltimore airport, with a full military greeting, then hopped on another bus to drive into Washington, D.C., to visit some of the war memorials there. Six memorials in their less-than-two-day stay. Plus they got to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
"To see all the memorials, that really made my day," Jack said.
The veterans wore khaki T-shirts and red caps identifying them as World War II veterans. (Helpers wore red T-shirts and khaki caps.)
"Wearing that World War II cap," Jack said, "so many people stopped to say 'thank you for what you did.'"
Jack was impressed with the military precision of this trip.
"I was amazed at how scheduled it was," he said. "We were never five minutes late for anything.
Jack's wife Edna had the group's itinerary. (Spouses were not allowed on the trip unless they were trained helpers and paid their own way.) Their kids called them regularly to ask, "Where is he now?"
Their return to the Minneapolis airport was greeted with another military welcome. At the V.F.W. in
St. Cloud the Honor Guard greeted them, and all the families were waiting for them.
"The bus blew its horn as we drove up," Jack said. "Gave me goosebumps!"
Honor Flight Network
These trips for veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials were started by a group called Honor Flight Network. Veterans may apply for the trips, and all their expenses (except for souvenirs) are covered by the group.
A number of guardians accompany the veterans on each trip as usually about a third of them are in wheelchairs. Guardians pay their own way.
The group relies on donations from corporations and individuals to fund the trips. Freedom Flight is a St. Cloud organization that flies POW-MIA balloons at various events. They contribute to the Honor Flight Network as well.
World War II veterans can apply for the program. Applications are on-line at <
Jack's service to country
It was 67 years ago Thanksgiving Day that a 19-year-old farm boy from near Winona boarded a ship bound for Australia. It was 1943, and Jack Young was headed for the Pacific theater of World War II.
"I got two Thanksgiving dinners that year," Young remarked. "One at the base before we left, and another two days later on ship."
In all, Young served two and a half years in the United States Navy. He entered the service an apprentice seaman, and left a Metalsmith First Class.
He worked repairing submarines in port, sometimes seven or eight at a time. His unit did all repairs necessary: hull, electrical, adding gun mounts or ammo storage.
"If it was really bad, then it had to go to dry dock," Young explained, adding that they did everything else.
Young was later stationed at Pearl Harbor and then Midway Island before being discharged in March 1946.
Before being drafted into the Navy, Young had gone to Seattle to work in the Navy shipyard there. This was just as the war started, and Young was only 17. He was a metalworker, and worked two years before he got his draft notice.
He had a choice of locations to be inducted, and he chose to come home to the farm near Winona for a few days.
"It was a good chance to come home and see pa and ma," he said.
Following six weeks of basic training, Young was boarding that ship Thanksgiving Day headed for the war.
Young's father died in January 1946 and he'd come home for the funeral. That's when he met his bride-to-be, Edna Barnewitz, a young girl from Rushford.
After his discharge and return home, the couple started dating and Jack worked as a hired hand that summer on another farm near Winona. They were married that September, now 64 years ago.
Jack worked 37 years at Dispatch Industries in the Twin Cities, building custom industrial ovens. The couple retired to a cabin on Clear Lake. They now live in Kimball. They have three children, six grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.