Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. They transport veterans (at no cost to the veteran) to Washington, D.C. to visit those memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifices of themselves and their friends. Since 2005 they have flown 222,133 WWII, Korea, and Vietnam veterans to D.C.
Recently, Russellville Park resident Myrle Wilkerson was given the honor of taking his very own Honor Flight. Myrle served in the U.S. Navy from 1949-1952 as an Electricians Mate. The Korean War began in June of 1950 and the North Korean People’s Army poured across the 38th parallel. By July 1950, American troops entered the war to fight with South Korea.
During the war, Myrle served on a large seagoing tugboat doing rescue and salvage. Their responsibilities included rescuing people off beaches in typhoons, rescuing downed pilots from freezing waters, clearing out mine fields, and supporting minesweepers by giving them fresh water and food. Myrle recounted times on the boat where it was so cold from the wind that blew off the mountain that he and his crewmates would sneak items on the boat to stay warm. The guards became aware of this and started searching for each person. If they found an item not allowed on the boat, it was dumped into the sea and the service member was thrown into the brig! Soon the crew became smarter than the guards and found more clever ways to sneaking items on the boat – all for the sake of trying to stay warm during their mission.
Myrle found other ways to make life on a boat easier, including using the belts on the bed that kept the bedding tidy to keep himself in his bed at night while the boat was being tossed by massive waves. Myrle lost more than his share of friends during the war, including ones he thought would be safe. Myrle ended his service in the Navy in 1952, just before the Korean War ended.
During Myrle’s visit to Washington, D.C he met 24 other veterans from around the U.S., along with their family members, and representatives from Honor Flight. They visited the WWII, Korean War, and the Vietnam War Memorials, the U.S. Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. He describes that each memorial he visited was perfectly taken care of and represented the time perfectly. He was so proud to walk through memorials, the airports, museums, and have outsiders stop, clap and thank them for their service. He is blessed to be alive and has a sense of pride for all that he has accomplished thanks to his start in the military.
At Russellville Park, we celebrate the life stories of our residents, especially our veterans! We would love for you to stop by and meet the residents that make Russellville Park such a special place to live. Call us or stop by for your tour today!
Live Big. Live Bold.
Retirement should feel like you’re on a permanent vacation which is exactly why our communities celebrate freedom from obligation, helping you pursue new interests.