Local WWII Vets Honored by USO and the Freedom Fighter Honor Flight Program
Special Report to the SeaTac Blog by SeaTac City Council Member Pam Fernald
Three WWII veterans were welcomed home Sunday by a group of smiling SeaTac USO Volunteers with banners and flags. The Vets were returning from a whirlwind trip to Washington D.C. to visit the WWII, Iwo Jima, Korean, and Viet Nam war memorials. They also visited the Lincoln Memorial.
The veterans’ trip was sponsored by a Freedom Fighter Honor Flight whose goal is “Helping every single veteran in America, willing and able of getting on a plane or a bus, visit THEIR memorial.” Their website is http://www.freedomfightershf.org/ Each veteran is assigned a “guardian” to accompany him or her on the trip.
The trio of veterans and their guardians left Seattle at 6 am Friday and spent all day Saturday visiting the memorials, returning to SeaTac on Sunday.
Sarge was a first sergeant in the Army and served during three wars which included time under General McArthur. Sarge was wearing a large gold medallion given to him by General MacArthur for his service from 1940 to 1945. Sarge served in both the European and Pacific Theaters, including a short time with the Australian Army.
Two other WWII vets made the same Freedom Fighter Honor Flight trip, although one of the WWII vets got away before he could be interviewed.
However, Bob Otto, a WWII Air Force vet, modestly agreed to talk with us. Bob was a B24 tail gunner when his plane was shot down by the Germans over Austria. He was a POW for one year in Cerignola , Italy until the British freed him and his group in 1945.
Sarge, 87, is still in the Honor Guard and fires his M1 at Military Services. He also has served over 8,000 Volunteer hours at the VA Hospital and Tahoma National Cemetery. And he has given over 3,000 hours with the SeaTac USO.
(For those who do not know, the USO center at SeaTac International Airport provides our military with 24/7 travel assistance and access to all the comforts of home. It is located on the second level of the Arrivals concourse, at the far South end above the new Condor airlines check-in area.)
WWII Veterans, we salute you!