Local Veterans Moved By Honor Flight

Local Veterans Moved By Honor Flight

 

 

 

 

Five veteran with Clark Count roots pose at the Vietnam Memorial during the 57th Great River Honor Flight.  They are (Front Row) Michael Huston and Pat Huston, (Back Row) Jerry Thorn, Ralph Dorrell, and Bill Critser.

 

Local Veterans Moved By Honor Flight

By Denise Shannon

The final Great River Honor Flight of 2019 headed to Washington, DC, on October 17.  Four local veterans, and a former Clark County veteran, were part of the 57th Honor Flight.

Thirty-six veterans and 20 guardians boarded a bus that went to the airport in St. Louis, then flew to Baltimore, and then boarded another bus for the trip into Washington D.C.

Three of the veterans on this trip were related, which, according to some on the flight, is the first time family members have been able to go together.  They were brothers Pat Huston of Kahoka, and Mike Huston of Tulsa, Oklahoma, along with Pat’s brother-in-law, Ralph Dorrell of Kahoka.

Jerry Thorn and William Critser, both of Alexandria, also took part in the trip.

The journey of these veterans actually began at luncheon and recognition ceremony sponsored by the Clark County D.A.R. chapter over two years ago.  Both Pat Huston and Jerry Thorn attended. Pat, Mike and Ralph even returned their applications in the same envelope.

We were pleased to be able to interview Pat Huston, Ralph Dorrell and Jerry Thorn for this story.  We were unable to contact William Critser for an interview.

The first local Veteran that we had the opportunity to interview was Ralph Dorrell, who served in the Army.  Ralph explained that he was in Army Security Agency, and he was a Traffic Analyst and he was with the 25th Infantry Division.  He was in the service from Oct. 27th, 1968 to May 27th, 1970.  He was in for three years, eleven months, and two days.  

Ralph enjoyed the whole trip, he thought it was very coordinated and there were many different things that he really thought were interesting.  The first thing that he spoke about was when the plane landed in Baltimore.  

“One of the things that got me was when we landed into Baltimore, and when the plane came up the runway, they had two big fire engines shooting streams of water onto both sides, and it just drowned the plane as you had flown into a monster thunderstorm, and then we went into the airport, and walked in there and a line of people started shaking our hands, and people clapping, and saying welcome home. That part really touched me, because we didn’t get that when we come home from the service then.  It was kind of like the country’s attitude had changed.  When we come home, we got no welcome home. It was a different time back then, there was a lot of anti-war sentiment and stuff going on around that time.   We joined the military and went in thinking we were doing the right thing for our country and then we come home, we just got out of our uniform, took it off and didn’t let anyone know where we had been.  So, this was very touching for me because we got our welcome home,” said Dorrell.

Ralph also spoke about how he enjoyed watching the police officer on the motorcycle leading the way for them as they were going from Baltimore to D.C.  He was also impressed with the drivers that were taking them to the memorials.  

The second local veteran that we had the opportunity to interview was Pat Huston, who served in the Navy.  

Pat explained that he was in the Navy, working in Missile Guidance, but, he ended up working on River Boats because, the Gulf was too shallow and therefore, no submarines were needed 

He said, “I was in the service for 10 years, from the last of 1967 to the first of 1978.”  

 “I was just amazed at all of the details they went through, they researched everyone so intimately, I mean they knew everything about us it seems like,” he said.

 “When they did ‘mail call’ and gave out mail bags to everyone, and they were tailored individually to everyone, there were letters from family members, from people that they didn’t even know, from school children and organizations, it was amazing, said, Pat.”  

Another thing that touched Pat during this trip was after they had received their bag of mail, inside of the bag was a bag of candies with a note attached to it.  Pat ate the candy but, as he was eating the candy he read the note that was with the candy.  On this note, it explained each type of candy within it.  Each one represented something special within the bag of candy, and this touched Pat enough that he has saved this special little note that was with the candies. 

The second local Veteran that we had the opportunity to interview was Pat Huston, from Kahoka, Mo., who was in the Navy.  Pat explained that he was in the Navy, he was in Missile Guiding, but, he ended up working on River Boats because, the gulf was too shallow and therefore, no submarines were needed due to the Gulf being too shallow, so he ended up working on River Boats instead.  He said, “I was in the service for 10 years, from the last of 1967 to the first of 1978.”  

Pat enjoyed the whole thing, he thought it was wonderful.  Pat explained, “I was just amazed at all of the details they went through, they researched everyone so intimately, I mean they knew everything about us it seems like.”

One thing that he enjoyed was, “When they did mail call and gave out mail bags to everyone and they were tailored individually to everyone, there were letters from family members, from people that they didn’t even know, from school children and organizations, it was amazing, said, Pat.”  

One thing that touched Pat during this trip, was after they had received their bag of mail, inside of the bag was a bag of candies with a note attached to it.  Pat ate the candy but, as he was eating the candy he read the note that was with the candy.  On this note, it was talking about each type of candy within it.  Each one represented something special within the bag of candy and this touched Pat enough that he has saved this special little note that was with the candies. 

The third local Veteran that we had the opportunity to interview was Jerry Thorn, who served in the Army.  Jerry explained that he was in the Army, but he ran a landing craft in the Army.  He worked with the landing craft on the water.  

“I enjoyed everybody’s company, we had a good time--like a big family.  I thought it was interesting how everything was planned, and the receptions were great, and I enjoyed all of the memorials,” said Thorn.  He also enjoyed seeing the monuments, and would recommend the trip to other veterans.

After visiting the memorial in Washington, they visited Arlington National Cemetery before going to the Reagan National Airport for their trip home.

Michael Huston, Patrick Huston, and Ralph Dorrell pose for a photo at the Vietnam Memorial.

 

 

 

 

 

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