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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 10, 2009, Pages 1 & 14

Third Group of World War II veterans
from area take flight

Area veterans visiting the Iowa section of the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. are from left; George Dilley, Jim Overholtzer and Bill Rusk.

If anything, the organization of the Honor Flights for World War II veterans to see the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C. seems to be getting better organized.

That's the world from George DILLEY of Sun Valley Lake and Bill RUSK and Jim OVERHOLTZER of Mount Ayr who went on the most recent Honor Flight, this one sponsored by Hy-Vee.

"Jake DAILEY told us there were some holdups on getting security done before getting back on the planes in Washington, D.C. with his flight, but everything went very smoothly for our group," Bill RUSK said of the trip.

The schedule of the trip was much like the earlier two flights that have taken county World War II veterans to the nation's capitol.

Veterans and their spouses, friends of family shared in a banquet the night before, got up very early the day of the flight, flew to Washington, D.C. to see the sights, flew back the same day and arrived late in the evening.

"It was unbelievable how well organized the trip was," George DILLEY reported. "Everything was just perfect."

DILLEY served in the Army in campaigns in Africa, Sicily and Italy, serving with a number of different units during his years of service between 1942 and 1946. He served under General George Patton in the early part of the war and then under General Mark Clark during the campaigns in Italy.

Once back home, he got into the radio business and had a friend in the Air Force so served in the Air Force Reserves for five years as well.

The last time DILLEY had been in Washington, D.C. was in 1942 on a train when he was headed overseas so having a chance to see the nation's capitol and the monuments was a real treat for him.

He was amazed at the hundreds of people who helped take care of the veterans on the trip.

More than 40 veterans made the trip this time -- ll bus loads -- and they all flew on a 747 to Washington, D.C.

Watching the progress of the plane on the map at the front of the cabin was of special interest to DILLEY on the flights out and back.

DILLEY said he met a lot of veterans on the trip and especially enjoyed the visit with another veteran who had taken part in the Anzio Beach campaign where DILLEY was involved.

"It was enjoyable to share stories with other veterans and [Page 14] remember the good times as well as the bad times we went through," he said.

DILLEY also enjoyed seeing the war memorials, especially the World War II memorial.

"It was just a very enjoyable trip," DILLEY commented.

"There are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the trip," Bill RUSK said of his experience. "It's something I'll never forget."

RUSK served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 and was attached to Admiral Chester Nimitz's headquarters in Hawaii and Guam during the war.

He went into the Navy three days after he received his high school diploma.

RUSK said he joined the Navy when his father, who had served in the Army, told him that in the Navy at least he'd almost always have a bed to sleep in.

RUSK had helped in the efforts to raise money for the World War II memorial in his work with the American Legion, but had never been back to Washington, D.C. to see the completed memorial.

"It is huge and well designed," he said of his impressions of the memorial. "We spent a lot of time there."

Another highlight of the trip was seeing the changing of the guard ceremony at Arlington Cemetery. RUSK was right up front in the crowd to get a good view.

On the way back to the plane after the big day, the buses were taken around to look at the memorials as they are lighted at night.

"Seeing the memorials at night is really something else," RUSK said.

By chance RUSK and Jim OVERHOLTZER were both put on the orange bus so they were able to travel together throughout the trip.

RUSK said the planners took very good care of those on the trip. Besides providing all kinds of apparel to wear, there was food provided all day long. "There was something offered every time you turned around," RUSK said.

Being up for the long stretch didn't catch up with RUSK until the second day back, when he took it easy to rest up, he said.

"I highly recommend for any World War II veteran to take the trip," RUSK said.

Jim OVERHOLTZER was in the Navy during World War II from 1943 to 1946.

He loaded munitions during much of the war and was part of an effort to develop a secret apparatus that would blow a path on a beach for landing craft coming it.

"We worked a long time on the project but it never really proved to be a practical thing," he said.

He also spent a lot of time drilling on running landing crafts up on U.S. beaches in training.

"I had the opportunity to be a gunner on a torpedo bomber, but I saw too many of the bombers slide back in on their bellies and I didn't volunteer," he said.

OVERHOLTZER said he was very impressed with the World War II memorial but the Korean War memorial was also a highlight for him as was driving by the World War I memorial.

He had been through Washington, D.C., changing trains in the middle of the night several times during the war, but had never seen the nation's capitol during the daylight.

"It was really an uplifting experience for me," OVERHOLTZER said.

OVERHOLTZER was in the same traveling group as Bill RUSK and ran into George DILLY in a restroom line at the World War II memorial so all three got together for pictures there.

He had a "small world" moment at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

He had been off to one side taking pictures of all the yellow shirts and jackets of the veterans traveling together when a young couple came up to him to ask who the people were in the yellow jackets.

The woman turned out to be a former Fairfield resident who knew many people that OVERHOLTZER knows.

"She lives in California now and was just there on a trip," he said. "It's amazing that you would run into a stranger who would know people you know in a place like that."

"Hy-Vee and the folks who helped with the trip all along the way were extra nice," OVERHOLTZER said. "They did everything you could imagine to make this a wonderful trip."

  Photographs courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2012

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