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Father, daughter share Honor Flight

Marine veteran Bill Reineke, second from right, traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of an Honor Flight group June 4. His daughter, Nancy Nusser, accompanied him as an Honor Flight guardian and his grandson, Tom Mitchell, met them once they arrived in the nation’s capital. Photos provided to The Focus.

Marine veteran Bill Reineke, second from right, traveled to Washington, D.C. as part of an Honor Flight group June 4. His daughter, Nancy Nusser, accompanied him as an Honor Flight guardian and his grandson, Tom Mitchell, met them once they arrived in the nation’s capital. Photos provided to The Focus.

By John Montgomery
Focus Reporter

When veteran Bill Reineke Sr. first heard about Honor Flight, he wasn’t sure if he was qualified to go or even if he should.

Now he’s glad he reconsidered.

Reineke, who served in the Marine Corps during the World War II and Korean War eras, took part in the June 4 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., with his daughter, Nancy Nusser, taking part as a guardian.

“It was well worthwhile. A lot of (veterans) figure they’re getting too old, they don’t want to do it, but I think it’s well worthwhile for anybody [who is a veteran],” said Reineke, who said he first heard of Honor Flight from a friend’s son who works at a VA Hospital.

“I think it is a well worthwhile trip,” the 85-year-old said.

“It was a real nice trip. I was very doubtful about going, but I’m very happy that I did go,” Reineke said. “It was very interesting seeing all the monuments. Some of them I hadn’t seen before.”

Honor Flight is a national non-profit organization which takes veterans to the nation’s capital to visit various memorials.

Reineke and Nusser’s trip was organized by Flag City Honor Flight in Findlay and Northwest Ohio Honor Flight in Toledo.

Reineke was one of 78 World War II and Korean War veterans who took part on the trip, which amounted to a long day, he said.

Other Fostoria veterans on the trip were Glen Groves, Don Huffman, Kermit Leedy, Alfred Brickner, Brice Arnett, Wilfred Frisch, George Stahl, John Shatzer and Richard Steve.

The veterans and guardians in the Findlay area met at 4 a.m. in Findlay before being escorted up to Toledo by Findlay Police, Ohio State Patrol, sheriff’s deputies and a Patriot Guard of motorcyclists.

They met other veterans and guardians at Toledo Express Airport for breakfast before taking a chartered flight — free for the veterans, with guardians each voluntarily paying $400 — to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The group then took charter buses to Washington, D.C., ate a lunch provided by a local Elks group and toured the World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial, Air Force Memorial, the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery to witness a changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“I thought the Korean [War] Monument was wonderful, and the World War II Monument was nice, too,” Reineke said.

“The changing of the guard is probably the most impressive thing I’ve seen. It was excellent,” Reineke said.

Nusser agreed, though she said she was also impressed by watching others honor the veterans.

“When we got off the bus at the World War II Monument, they had two group of school kids and they all had the same color shirts on and all holding up signs and stuff and yelling ‘yea’ and ‘thank you’ and all kinds of stuff,” Nusser said. “It was really cool.

“People would walk past you and say ‘thank you’ to the vets,” she said.

The group flew back to Toledo later that night, but the day was not over.

Honor Flight personnel and friends and family of the veterans crowded into a hangar to welcome them back with a dinner and reception.

“It was a long line,” Reineke said with a laugh. “I shook more hands than I knew I could ever shake.”

Each veteran received pictures, a book about the memorial dedicated to the conflict in which they served, and letters from school children and family members.

“I’m very happy I went, I can tell you that,” Reineke said.

It’s something Nusser said she may try to witness again.

“It was really a neat experience,” Nusser said. “I think I would do it again as a guardian. I know a lot of the people have done it before and will do it again.”

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