May 21, 2009

Flight honors four Washburn vets

By Brenda L. Shelkey

The TV cameras whirred, cameras clicked and flashed, and reporters stayed busy recording the events in Washington D. C. for posterity’s sake. It wasn’t a scheduled appearance of President Obama causing the stir or a politician looking for attention. The admiring fans were just regular people, tourists and school groups gathering around the 96 veteran celebrities who had arrived in Washington D. C. for the Roughrider Honor Flight. Ninety-six veterans of World War II and an entourage of family members, friends, doctors, nurses, escorts and media resulted in a group of around 165 people honoring the veterans. The Roughrider Honor Flight is a volunteer effort to send veterans from North Dakota to see the World War II Memorial that was first dedicated in their honor five years ago. Honor Flight organizers kept every need supplied and every minute busy. On this flight, four veterans from Washburn made the trip. They were Ray Wicklander, Phil Schulz, Gerald (Stork) Nordquist, and Jack Wiese. As young men they each made their own contribution to the war effort. Ray Wicklander was a young Lt. Commander who enlisted in July of 1941 as a dive bomber pilot first on Guadalcanal and the Solomon Islands, then on the USS Lexington in the Philippines. He is the oldest member of the local group which went to Washington D. C. Wicklander was mightily impressed with the service the Honor Flight escorts provided during the two-day event. He said, "I thought it was wonderful. They took care of everything you could want. They had wheel chairs and everything if you couldn’t walk and got tired." As a young man, Phil Schulz was a Navy Fire Controlman, 1st Class during the war. Although he didn’t see the action the other three veterans saw, he still contributed to the war efforts from a base in Virginia. His experience on the Honor Flight was that the veterans were treated like royalty.

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