WWII vet makes patriotic journey PDF Print E-mail
Written by PETER KUEBECK, Sentinel Staff Writer   
Thursday, 02 May 2013 09:02
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Wilbur Dill, 91, at his Bowling Green home. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Honor Flight has left a meaningful mark on Wilbur Dill.
The 91-year-old Bowling Green resident was among nearly 70 veterans taken by the organization to Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
"It made me feel I'd done something useful for the country," said Dill. "It was a trip of patriotism. Everybody was so nice, everybody on the trip was so nice. You could talk with anybody. Made you feel like you belonged."
Dill entered the U.S. Army in December, 1942, and first served in the European Theater during World War II.
"We landed in England, and was there in a camp at Chester, England, for a while. We helped carry a lot of wounded on board ships to go home, for a month or so."
Dill later ended up on the European mainland just in time for the famous German counter-offensive known as the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944.
"The war was pretty well progressed by then, I went right up into Germany."
Dill was assigned to an Engineer Forestry unit, tasked with fashioning lumber for mine props and pontoon bridges across the Rhine River.
"But I didn't have to work any of that," he explained. "I was driving the company commander's Jeep," and driving back and forth to Belgium for supplies.
"I was just a driver, and the drivers kind of had it made."
With the end of the war in Europe, Dill traveled to southern France, and boarded a ship.
"I thought I was coming home," he said. However, the transport took him and other servicemen through the Panama Canal to the Philippines.
"I had to go to the Pacific, too," he said.
"They were planning on invading Japan, and I was stationed on Bataan, waiting on that invasion."
However, the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki blunted the necessity of an invasion. Dill was later stationed on Yokohama before coming back to the States in February of 1946.
"I never saw any combat," he said. "I was close enough I could hear what was going on. And once in a while one of (the German) bombs" or rockets, "would land once in a while, put a hole in the ground."
"I always said I wouldn't take a million dollars for the experience I had, but I wouldn't do it again for a million," he laughed.
The Honor Flight veterans took off from the Grand Aire Hangar, Swanton, Tuesday morning and landed in Washington to applause.
"They played music, they welcomed us all the way through the airport to the bus, there were people welcoming us and thanking us for our part in the war and all that."
Dill was accompanied on the trip by his son-in-law, Bob Peinert.
The veterans saw the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and numerous other memorials, with the centerpiece of the trip being the World War II memorial.
"That's really something," he said. "They've got a monument for every state in the Union. It's gorgeous."
The veterans returned Tuesday night, and "what a welcome we got there in Toledo," he said.
"I shook hands until I thought my hand was going to fall off."
"It was a wonderful experience."
Last Updated on Thursday, 02 May 2013 10:31
 

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