Korean War Vets Made Up Half Of Midwest Honor Flight

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While previous honor flights focused on getting World War II vets to their memorial, Midwest Honor Flight featured more Korean War veterans than anything other group. 46 of the 85 veterans on honor flight served during the Korean War. 

The “Changing Of The Guard” ceremony is a must see for any visitor to the Washington, D.C., area. It was one of the first stops for veterans on Midwest Honor Flight, a special trip that is changing from hosting mostly World War II vets to a majority of Korean War veterans such as Woonsocket’s Donald Druse. 

“Awesome. Awesome. That was really, really good. Really good. They got that down to perfection. I’m glad I’ve seen it,” Druse said. 

Druse served in the Marine Corps during the Korean War but he never saw combat. Instead, he spent most of his time in San Francisco. 

“They knew I could work a typewriter at that time. So they flew me up there and I worked in the offices the whole time,” Druse said.

As the vets arrived at their memorial this week, Lowell Pearson from Alcester reminisced about his experiences on the front lines in Korea. 

“I was a messenger running around on the hills and getting shot at,” Pearson said. 

Every third day, Pearson had to deliver supplies and new passwords to soldiers on the battlefield.

“When the shells start falling close to you, you try to hide somewhere. When you’re close enough to hear the shrapnel going by, that’s too close,” Pearson said. 

Matt Holsen: What’s it like to be with 45 other Korean vets?

Pearson: We have a lot to talk about.

Posing for a picture near the “Pool Of Remembrance,” Wennis Franz from Mountain Lake, Minnesota, couldn’t believe the people walking up to say “Thank You.”

“I didn’t think nobody would recognize us coming in,” Franz said. 

More and more vets like Franz who served during the Korean war are being recognized these days.

Similar to the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the focus of honor flights might be shifting but the veterans now being treated to the special trips are just as worthy. 

“I’m glad the people recognized some of the good service the servicemen have done for our nation,” Franz said. 

Our special reports on Midwest Honor Flight conclude Friday with a story on the seven World War II veterans that made the trip. We will also feature honor flight in EYE on KELOLAND Friday night at 10. 


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