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WWII Veterans Welcomed Home

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PORTLAND, Ore. — World War II veterans on-board South Willamette Valley’s first Honor Flight returned Sunday to a huge celebration.

Family and friends welcomed them at PDX. They waited anxiously with signs and banners for Southwest Flight 3414.

Alice Hanscam came to greet her husband, a retired staff sergeant who’s currently writing a memoir.

“Well, it brought back a lot of memories for him,” Hanscum said.

Also lining the terminal were Patriot Guard riders.

“We stand for those who stood for us,” said Patriot Guard rider Sue Reeves. “We come from a long line of veterans and both my brother served in Vietnam, and they didn’t get a very nice welcome home.”

This honor fight returned to fanfare. First, fire engines sprayed water, creating an arch for the plane, and then there was a the parade of veterans. The World War II veterans were greeted by cheers.

“Oh, just to show honor to my dad and to all the other vets who have served our country and have purchased our freedom for us today,” said Jane Snoddy, a daughter of a WWII veteran.

Fifty-eight veterans embarked on South Willamette Valley’s first Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. They made stops at the National World War II Monument and other war memorials.

Each veteran was accompanied by a guardian. Paul Armentrout, a B-24 airforce pilot, went with his son.

“It was really wonderful. I did not expect it to be that nice…Kinda hard to describe, but it makes me feel kinda small and all these people honoring you. It just doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem like maybe this should have happened,” Armentrout said.

“It touched them deeply. It was something that was so overdue for this generation of heroes and stuff,” said Mike Pungercar, SWV Honor Flight organzier.

Pungercar says there are still veterans on the waiting list.

“It’s a time-critical project because we are losing these veterans and we are losing their stories if we don’t share them,” Pungercar said.

Charlie Schull is one of them, a World War II veteran who hopes to be on the next Honor Flight.

“I do. I really do. I’ve never been to D.C. and what an opportunity,” Schull said.

Currently, there more than 60 World War II veterans are on the waiting list. The next flight is tentatively scheduled for late April 2013.

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  1. Sherrie Armentrout Kuhl says:

    Hello Sean — very nice job on your article!!! Gary was happy to send you some of his pictures, but now he is paying a price for taking my father to DC. He has a bad stomach flu and is bed-ridden with it.

    You interviewed my sister Jane. There were 20 members of Dad’s family there — three of his four children with their spouses, a nephew and his spouse, three grandchildren and their spouses, and six great grandchildren. I am the oldest of Paul’s children and Jane is the #2 daughter. Both of us are retired high school teachers — I was in English, writing, and journalism and Jane was in art. In the late 1990’s I talked Dad into making tapes as a biography of his youth and his years in the war. He was the pilot of a B-24 and flew 30 bombing missions over Germany and never lost a man. I transcribed his tapes into two books (which took me two years) — one book was completely focused on his war years. Jane did a large water color painting of Hot Shot Charley, his favorite plane, which we used as a cover design. If you are interested in seeing his self-published book, I would send you a copy as a “thank you” for all your work on the Honor Flight stories.

    Two years ago when I read about Oregon Honor Flight in the Register Guard, I collected all the information and filled out an application for my father without telling him. I didn’t tell him about it until I got word that his name was on the list for going on this October trip — and his health and my Mom’s health crisis improved. So although his name was on the waiting list for a year and a half, he didn’t know about it until five months before the trip was scheduled to leave.

    Sorry this is so long – I know how limited your time is. By the way, did you know that Mike Pungercar also wrote a book about his father’s war experiences as a B-17 radio man. His father died before Mike got that book written so it is reads more like a history book of facts. My Dad’s book is like a diary of the war with facts but almost no emotion in it — you experienced his lack of talking about feelings when you interviewed him. Thanks again — Sherrie Armentrout Kuhl 541 344-7917

  2. Jane Snoddy says:

    Sean, thank you so much for covering the return of the Honor Flight to the Portland Airport. I could tell that it was more than just another story to you. You treated each veteran with such honor and respect. I am the daughter who was holding the sign for my father, Paul Armentrout. He had a welcoming throng of 20 family members and friends. He only knew that my Mom and older sister would be there so his expression as he saw each of us was priceless. Those greeting him included 6 great grand children including a month old that he had not met yet. Those memories will stay with me forever. You did an awesome job of capturing the memories. It’s great that KEZI has such a quality news person!

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