Recently American Legion Post #66 of Hiawatha, KS was the host of a reunion for several local World War II veterans. Attending this reunion were many of those that joined the Brown County Honor Flight in August 2009 to Washington, D. C (pictured above). The Brown County Honor Flight was sponsored by several people from the Hiawatha and Sabetha areas. Several individuals were responsible for the planning and funding of this trip that included fund raisers Charlie Baird, American Legion Post #66 members, many other local veteran supporters, including contributions from Bill Kent’s eighth-grade class at Sabetha Middle School. Bill Kent, whose WWII veteran father passed away before this trip, was a volunteer. Sponsors and other volunteers were: Coordinator Sam Schuetz (Post #66 Commander in 2009); Dave Wilson (Post #66 Bugler); and Greg Mastaller. Connie Parker, a Hiawatha High School graduate, currently residing in the Washington, D.C. area, handled the logistics prior to the group arriving. Several veteran and active duty military members in the Washington, D.C. area volunteered their time to escort the group, now all over 80 years of age. In addition Connie worked with Gunnery Sgt. Michael Reed, a public affairs officer for the Marine Corps, to provide escort services to special events in the area.
The photo above is in front of the Kansas pylon at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., was taken during the Brown County Honor Flight in August 2009. Pictured are FRONT ROW (L-R) Connie Parker’s assistant, Hiawatha High School alumna Connie Parker, veterans Virgil Wenger of Hiawatha, Gerry Alkire of Hiawatha, Francis Wahwasuck of Horton and Lloyd Jimeson of Hiawatha, escort Deb Wright of Hiawatha and tour guide Rick; ROW TWO (L-R) Air Force volunteer Greg Willoughby, escort Jodi Twombly, PA, of Hiawatha, veterans Rubin Finger of Horton, Loys Grove of Hiawatha, Harry Goodman of Sabetha and Lester Wenger of Topeka; BACK ROW (L-R) an Air Force volunteer, Air Force volunteer Captain Gonzales, sponsors Bill Kent, Sam Schuetz and Dave Wilson, veterans Bill Lear of Hiawatha, Don Winchell of Horton, Bob Parks of Hiawatha and Forrest Jones of Sabetha, volunteer Greg Mastaller, veteran Charles Skinner, and Dr. Kevin.
Unfortunately, yielding to the progression of time, memories are lost of the men and women of the Greatest Generation as they pass from our reach. We have subsequently lost the memories of the sights and sounds, the terrors and triumphs of some veterans that fought and won the war that was the greatest threat of our freedom. Of the veterans who made that trip in 2009, Forest Jones, Charles Skinner, Lloyd Jimeson and Frances Wahwasuck are no longer with us. There is still time to honor and thank the veterans of the Greatest Generation for their sacrifice and service to our Country.