Front Page News

April 12, 2017


 

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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.

 

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NH Veterans Bob Bailey and John Schlang stand at the New Hampshire column at the World War II memorial.

 

All 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.

 

Of 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.

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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