Honor Flight for brothers PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 26 April 2013 10:00
Otis and Lois Sonnenberg of Bowling Green will be going on an Honor Flight trip to Washington D.C, Tuesday. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
If it hadn't been for World War II, Otis and Lois Sonnenberg likely would never have met.
The pair, married since 1948, will be among those taking off for Washington, D.C., Tuesday as the 2013 Honor Flight season kicks off.
The couple, of Bowling Green, are going on the trip to honor their respective brothers who also served in the conflict.
Originally fron Tonawanda, N.Y., Lois Benzino was studying to be a nurse in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps at the University of Michigan when she met Otis, a Holgate resident and farmer in the Navy stationed at Dearborn, Mich., serving as a electronics technician. Lois was set up on a blind date with Otis, who happened to be the cousin of her friend's fiancee, but at first wasn't sure she wanted to go out at all.
"I never had a blind date," she said. However, her friend assured her "he's a great dancer, and I said 'Sold!'"
The pair met in 1945, and the war ended before either of them saw service overseas.
"We were on the brink of action," said Lois.
After the war, Otis continued farming in Holgate while Lois pursued a career in nursing, before going back to school and becoming a teacher of English and French, which she taught for a time in the Bowling Green School District. She went on to do writing consulting work for educators and businesses. Otis later worked at the Bowling Green State University Bookstore, and retired in 1988 after 22 years.
Both came from sizeable families - Otis is the seventh of eight children, and Lois is the third of four. And both had elder brothers who entered the armed forces before they did.
Otis' brothers saw service in Germany, and at Bougainville in the South Pacific.
"Since I had two older brothers in the military, and I was farming, I was deferred," explained Otis of why he entered the Navy late in the conflict.
One of Lois' brothers was part of a Navy underwater demolition team at Normandy; another was in the Army field artillery.
"We're just so glad our brothers all got home alive," said Lois. However, since the men have passed on and didn't live to see the construction of the World War II Memorial, the centerpiece of the Honor Flight trip, the pair is taking part in the journey with them firmly in mind.
"That's why we're thinking so much about our brothers. They didn't live to see it."
"When I heard about this, I thought this is a chance to go and think about them," she said.
"We're just so pleased that our sons can go with us," said Otis, noting that they will serve as Honor Flight Guardians for their parents. "And it'll be a neat experience for them."

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