Visitors from around the world were delighted to meet and talk
with Bob Bailey about his service in World War II at the
memorial in Washington, DC.
Veterans Bob Bailey and John Schlang stand at the New Hampshire
column at the World War II memorial.
In One Day
What started out several years ago as a “like to
do that someday” idea became a whirlwind trip to Washington DC
for Northwood veterans Bob Bailey and John Schlang. After
hearing about the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit
organization that transports veterans to visit the memorials
dedicated to their honor and service, the thoughts turned to
planning. The wait to be accepted into the program proved
challenging and the decision was made to complete a similar
excursion on their own.
A very early flight out of
Manchester (4:30 am) brought Bob, John, and Bob’s daughter Mary
into Washington DC before sunrise. They were greeted by Bob’s
niece Betty who joined them as they were met by a tour driver
previously arranged by a cousin of Bob’s wife. The grand tour
included a visit to: Pentagon 2001 Memorial, Marine Corps War
Memorial, National WWII Memorial, Roosevelt, Lincoln, Korean
War, Vietnam Veterans, Thomas Jefferson and Martin Luther King
Memorials. As they rode around the National Mall, the memorials
and monuments were viewed from the vehicle and in some places
were visited up close. One of the highlights of the trip
was the younger visitors who came up and greeted the veterans
and inquired about their service.
particular importance was a visit to the World War II Memorial.
Bob, who is celebrating his 90th birthday this week, served in
the war during his late teens. He is one of only 620,000 living
WWII veterans, of the 16 million who served their country during
this war. Bob was drafted in July of 1945 and went to Camp Croft
near Spartanburg, South Carolina for basic training. Originally
headed for duty in Japan, once the bombing occurred he was
instead leaving New York harbor for Berlin aboard the John
Ericsson, a cruise ship that was under contract operations as a
troop transport. Like most veterans, Bob can remember
infinite details of the time he spent away from home serving his
country. He recalls the crowded ship, a bad storm at sea, the 16
days to cross the English Channel, and how the sun was shining
brightly on the day they passed the white cliffs of Dover. Back
on land the soldiers were boarded onto a railroad train from
Frankfort to Berlin. There was much destruction and much work to
be done in the coming year. Bob prefers not to talk about the
most difficult work that faced them-removing the human remains
that had been placed in temporary graves so they could be sent
home to their final resting places. Instead, like so many of the
“Greatest Generation,” he speaks about their accomplishments:
building highways, rebuilding numerous structures that had been
damaged or destroyed, and setting up new offices so the work
could continue on.
Although a younger veteran, John
also knows the reality of serving overseas. After
enlisting in the Army National Guard in 1975, he served a total
of 29 years including tours of duty in both Desert Storm and
Iraqi Freedom. The trip to Washington was an opportunity
for him to view the memorials and monuments; more importantly,
it was to insure that his traveling companion made the trip to
visit the WW II memorial and not put it off for another year.
They boarded a flight back to NH at the end of the day and were
home by early evening. There had been much to see in one day in
Washington, DC and so many memories it evoked that had been
remembered for a lifetime.