Fathers are veterans too

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Father’s Day represents all that’s good with dear old dad.

Many fathers of the Baby Boomer sons and daughters, though, have passed on only to leave us with scrapbooks, some photos and records and memories just like many veterans who came after them. The 75th anniversary of D-Day illustrates our fathers’ call to duty in one of the most perilous times in history when more than 160,000 Allied troops landed on a heavily-fortified French coastline. At the last D-Day ceremony on June 6, fewer than 35 veterans who took part in the largest attended this year down from several hundred who traveled to Normandy in 2014 to partake in the events.

For many fathers who fought during World War II, every day of the war may have felt like their own version of a D-Day.

On the most recent Honor Flight Nevada trip to Washington, D.C., seven World War II veterans now in their early 90s saw the nation’s memorials and monuments. Three sons and a daughter accompanied their respective fathers on the flight, while others met their fathers at the airport.

Greeted by his daughter after the four-day trip, Kenneth Anderson served in the 10th Mountain Division, which swept through Italy in the last stages of the war.

Jerry Edson accompanied his father, Gerald Edson, who rode in the second seat of the SBD Dauntless, a naval scout plane and dive bomber, as the rear gunner looking for Japanese submarines and convoys near Guadalcanal.

Roy Wolters did some flying, but, instead, he primarily manned the radar. His son Randy traveled with his father to Washington, D.C. His unit and others island jumped their way to the Philippines to liberate the country to make good on a promise from Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who said American forces would return.

Elko rancher Frank Pinkerton was with the 144th Cavalry Regiment and then served with the U.S. Constabulary that acted as an occupation and security force in post-war Germany in the aftermath of World War II. Pinkerton attended some of the war trials in Nuremberg to watch the proceedings.

“That was history,” Pinkerton said.

His daughter, Teresa Moore, stayed by her father’ side for most of the four-day journey.

Stephen Stefanki spent time with Uncle Ray on the trip. Ray Stefanki joined the U.S. Marine Corps after the war but within the eligibility time of being considered a World War II veteran. He once belonged to an honor guard that appeared before Admiral Chester Nimitz and President Harry Truman.

Dave Killgore accompanied Patton Burton on the Honor Flight Nevada mission. Killgore says Burton is like a second dad. Burton served in both the U.S. Navy during World War II and the Coast Guard. Both Burton and Killgore live in the Johnson Lane of Douglas County.

We can learn much about these veterans on this and previous honor flights and how during World War II, they left home to put their lives on hold but on the line.

If my father were still alive today, he would have been in the same age group of these men — 92 this year on June 18. Unfortunately, cancer stormed his body and took his life in August 2001. The Sparks High School graduate enlisted as a 17-year-old, completed Navy boot camp in San Diego and eventually headed out to the South Pacific. He never talked about his time on an LST (Landing Ship, tank), which according to others’ accounts, these ships became easy targets for Japanese aircraft. After the war, they transported goods and supplies. LST crews encountered high seas that caused the ship, which were flat-bottom ships with no keel, to roll from one side to another.

On this year’s Father’s Day, and more than previous ones since his death, I’ll think of him and how it would’ve been an honor to accompany the skipper on an Honor Flight such as the one from which I recently returned to see the memorials and to learn more about his part in the Greatest Generation’s era of service and sacrifice.


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