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Honor Flight Veterans Return to a Warm Welcome

Hundreds of World War II Era veterans are treated to a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorial. It's a journey that has been repeated several times before, but never gets old.

Most veterans are modest about their service, but often what details they won't tell you, their families will.

Waiting for their heroes to come back from the latest Honor Flight at General Mitchell International Airport on a day that began 15 hours before, families wearing shirts with much younger faces in uniform are eager to share who they are waiting for.

Richard Lyon of Glendale had a whole posse of family members, identifiable by gray shirts bearing his picture from the United States Navy. He served on the USS Requin, a naval submarine, in the Pacific theatre, although his enlistment would come just as surrender was declared. He had first attempted to enlist as a 16-year-old, lying about his age.  However, his mother found out before he could ship out, and promised she would sign for him to join in another year.

His wife, Corrine, explained that she was a USO hostess when they met. Ironically, about 20 years later their daughter Kathleen would meet her future husband while she was also volunteering as a USO hostess. The couple had eight children, 21 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

Cletus Campbell of Muskego originally told us that he didn't have much to tell, as his service came in 1946.  However, his family explained that he was eager to enlist, and at the age of 17, he hitchhiked from Park Falls to Superior—about 150 miles—in order to do so.  However, being underage he needed a parent's signature. He promptly hitchhiked back to Park Falls to get it.

One of three brothers to serve in the World War II era, Campbell continued on with the Department of Defense as a civilian, and taught the 'army brats' in military schools in Nuremburg, Germany.  He remained in that capacity until 1990.

His family was obviously proud of his service, and excited to tell about their upbringing overseas.

"I used to play tennis with Patton's granddaughter," said Colleen Raupp, one of Campbell's six children.  She and sisters Caren Voors, Christa Ballio and Cay Lewandowski live in Muskego as well.

There were hundreds more stories to tell, from hundreds of proud families. No doubt they were shared many times over from veteran to veteran, family to family. Hearing just a few was an honor and a privilege.

Margaret Coonan October 10, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Another awesome flight.
Duchesneau October 10, 2011 at 03:09 PM
My father-in-law was on this flight. Truly amazing.
Sarah Millard October 10, 2011 at 05:55 PM
Was anyone else at the homecoming? What did you think about it? I covered it in May for Patch, and it was amazing to be there for such an emotional moment. We owe so much to these veterans and to those who are currently serving overseas.
Ron Kading October 10, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Sarah, I was a guardian for one of the vets about a year ago.The outpouring of love and appreciation shown these heros on their return from Washington was just amazing. Our plane was two hours late getting in at 11:00 on a Sunday night and there were thousands of people, young and old, cheering and shouting their thanks. To this day I remain in contact with my hero and all he talks about is that trip and the homecoming. What a long overdue honor we are giving to these people that gave so much so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have. God bless all our vets.
Sarah Millard October 11, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Thanks for sharing, Ron. It's an awesome experience to see them come home. My generation doesn't often get that opportunity that often to be part of a community event that collectively thanks those who have gone before us and fought for our freedoms. While it's all about honoring the WWII vets, it's also a strong message to the younger generations about remembering their sacrifices and appreciating our military for what they give.

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