West River veterans honored for their service with trip to D.C. memorials

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WASHINGTON (GrayDC)-- More than 80 veterans from the Midwest went on the trip of a lifetime to the nation’s capital Tuesday. They visited war memorials as part of an honor flight.

Earle Widmer and Jim Allison visited the war memorials in Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia Tuesday on the Midwest Honor Flight. (Source: GrayDC)

Two residents from West River were on the trip.

“They are beautiful and in my lifetime, this is the only time I could really get to see them. I’m 85,” said Earle Widmer, an Air Force veteran.

Earle Widmer is a Korean War veteran who served in the Air Force.

He joined with the hopes of traveling the world, but the Air Force had different plans for him.

“I was disappointed, I wanted to go, but I couldn’t go out of the United States,” said Widmer.

He was actually assigned to do top secret work loading ammunition into bomber airplanes.

“I loaded 20 mm ammunition into the B36,” said the Korean War veteran.

Widmer says he and other veterans did not get any recognition for their service when they got home from their deployment, so the trip meant a lot to him.

Widmer is not the only Korean War veteran on this honor flight. Jim Allison served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.

He said me he visited the memorials before, but this trip is extra special because he is with others who answered the call to serve.

“It’s refreshing to be with other veterans and hear their stories and their thoughts,” said Allison. "This has been a great day."

Allison served in the Army for 27 years, going overseas during the wars.
He retired years ago, but he still feels a connection to the military family.

“Once you’re in the Army, you never leave it,” said the veteran.

Allison and Widmer leave DC Tuesday, but not without taking back some special souvenirs with them.

“Good feelings, good thoughts and good memories,” said Allison.

The veterans headed home to South Dakota on Tuesday evening.

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