WWII veterans honored with D.C. tripA World War II veteran from New Richmond was honored for his service to the country during a special trip Saturday.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
A World War II veteran from New Richmond was honored for his service to the country during a special trip Saturday.
Richard C. Allers, 90, was treated to an “Honor Flight” to Washington, D.C.
Allers, who served in the Coast Guard from May 1942 to October 1945, was among 99 veterans who were on the trip. Allers’ daughter, Debbie Brown, signed her father up for the Honor Flight more than two years ago.
He admitted that he wasn’t sure if the trip was a good idea at first, but he’s now glad he went.
“It was a super experience,” Allers said. “I had never been to Washington before. It was just unbelievable.”
A Sun Country charter aircraft took off from the Twin Cities airport at 6 a.m. Saturday. The airplane was filled with the veterans, along with chaperones for the day.
A few hours later, the group was escorted to buses and driven to the nation’s Capitol. When they arrived at the airport in Washington, D.C., fellow veterans and Navy officers welcomed the group by standing at attention in a long line.
“It went on for two blocks,” Allers said of the welcoming group.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) was also on hand to welcome the group, which was made up of mostly Minnesota veterans but a couple Wisconsin veterans as well.
The event-packed day included a free breakfast, lunch and buffet banquet.
The group’s primary goal was to visit the World War II memorial on the Capitol Mall.
“It really is a nice memorial,” Allers said. “The best memorial of all I saw that day.”
The Honor Flights are designed to give those who fought in World War II a chance to see the memorial dedicated to them. The cost for the trip is paid for by the Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Charity, veteran organizations and business sponsors.
The tour group also stopped to view the Korean War Memorial, Women’s Military Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and Lincoln Memorial. The buses also drove past the Capitol, Smithsonian Institute and Pennsylvania Avenue.
“It was such a great experience,” Allers said.
On their return trip to Minnesota, the veterans were surprised with letters from family members and friends expressing their appreciation for the soldier’s service. The letters included photos from the World War II era.
“They delivered them to us on the plane,” Allers said of the surprise.
The day ended with a special “welcome home” banquet event in Minneapolis. Fellow veterans were on hand to greet the Honor Flight participants and their families, and bands played rousing military and patriotic music for the gathering.
Allers returned home at about midnight Saturday, about 22 hours since he woke for the day’s travels.
“It was a long day for us,” he admitted.
Allers said he’s anxious to see a video and pictures that were taken during the group’s quick trip east. Each participant will eventually receive a DVD and a special picture book recounting the adventure.
Allers enlisted in the Coast Guard as a young man living in Litchfield, Minn. He served on the ship A.W. Greely — AP-141, which traveled around the world during the war years. His job was as a radar operator, third class.
After he returned to the states following the war, Allers and his wife, Helen, eventually moved to New Richmond, where they have lived for 61 years.