Shutdown doesn’t ground Honor Flight for local vets PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer   
Friday, 11 October 2013 10:12
Marvin Widdel, Korean War Veteran who went on Honor Flight. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Despite the ongoing government shutdown, 11 Wood County residents were among more than 70 World War II and Korean War veterans welcomed to the nation's capital for Honor Flight of Northwest Ohio's recent trip.
Honor Flight board member David Chilson said that the event went off without a hitch.
"Everything went very well," he said, noting that the group was able to make it to the World War II Memorial and spent more than an hour there.
The memorial had been closed initially as part of the shutdown, and last week veterans made headlines after they "stormed the barricades" and were allowed through.
"We went straight there," Chilson said of Wednesday's trip. "There were park rangers there, both Congressman (Bob) Latta and Congresswoman (Marcy) Kaptur were there. There were no political agendas or anything there, it was just a very appropriate welcome."
While some of the usual sites on the trip itinerary - including the Korean War memorial and the Vietnam War memorial - had to be excluded due to time constraints, and the weather was described as "blustery," the vets were still treated to other stops, including Arlington National Cemetery, where they saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guard, the Iwo Jima memorial and the Air Force memorial.
Marvin Widdel, Perrysburg, served during the Korean War in the U.S. Air Force from 1951 to 1955. Originally from Lansing, Ill., a suburb of Chicago, he was stationed as a medic at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
"I thought it was excellent," he said of the Honor Flight trip.
He noted the multitudes of people that had gathered in Washington, D.C. to greet the vets.
"You kind of got a lump in your throat, as a matter of fact," he said.
He said that while the vets were able to see the World War II memorial, the fountains at the memorial itself were off due to the shutdown. While he wasn't able to see the Korean War memorial, "the whole program did not disappoint me, and that little hiccup didn't affect my appreciation of the trip at all."
Ironically, the shutdown appears to have provided an unexpected benefit to the veterans on this latest trip: while Honor Flight participants usually have an open-air lunch under a tent, the noontime meal this time was eaten at a four-star hotel in the city.
"Because of the shutdown, these hotels are looking for business, and they were able to negotiate a price for our meal," said Widdel.
"It just blew my mind," he said of the Honor Flight experience.
Lawrence Shiple, Perrysburg, served in the South Pacific with the Navy during World War II after he was drafted in 1944, traveling to the Philippines, Guam, Okinawa, Iwo Jima and other sites.
"I was right on the tail end of it," he said of the war.
"That was really something," he said of the Honor Flight trip. "Never been there (Washington, D.C.) before, and I have to say the biggest thing was the people."
He noted the throngs of well-wishers who greeted the veterans, "standing along the side, and we're walking through and they all stuck their hands out to shake our hands and wish us well."
"That was out of this world to me."
Shiple's daughter, Mary Krall, Walbridge, who acted as his guardian on the flight, noted that Honor Flight served as a opportunity for the vets to talk to each other and share their experiences - even discovering that they may have served near each other.
"It was an honor to be able to go with him," she said.

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