World War II Veterans Share Stories in Washington, D.C.

By KBJR News 1

May 17, 2011 Updated May 18, 2011 at 10:04 AM CDT

Washington, D.C. (Northland's NewsCenter) - They are part of the Greatest Generation and they're dieing at a rate of nearly one thousand a day. Time is running out for World War II veterans hoping to reflect.

Honor Flight Northland recently gave 100 Northland veterans the chance to do just that in Washington, D.C. Kevin Jacobsen had the privilege to go along for the journey as the war heroes looked back.

They come from different backgrounds, but share a common bond.


"I think more now that I think of it as a moving experience rather than then because at the time you are caught up in the war," said Bob Ballou, a World War II Veteran.

87-year-old Ballou was one of the one hundred Northland Veterans to visit the Nation's Capitol on the Honor Flight.

The Duluth native served as a military police officer in Germany.
Vivid memories came back to Ballou while touring various war memorials in Washington.

"Being at the World War Two monument and looking up at one end seeing the Washington Monument was very impressive," Ballou said. "It seemed to tie the whole atmosphere together."

An atmosphere filled with emotions and gratitude from complete strangers.

Joe Gomer, 90, served his country as part of the Tuskegee airmen, the first group of all African American military airmen.

"Most of the people here don't understand I was a part of the great experience back and we wouldn't be making this trip," he said. "They don't appreciate that."

But there is a general understanding from generations old and young of the sacrifices made by veterans. Battles that weren't always physical in nature.

"We trained segregated, we fought segregated, and we came back to segregation. We didn't come back as heroes. We came back as combat veterans black," said Gomer in a past interview with the Northland's NewsCenter.

Throughout the journey to the Nation's Capital many of the Veterans, including Gomer, stopped to pose for photos. Vacationing families and groups of students took time to thank them and listen to their stories.

Stories best told by these Veterans themselves.

Wednesday (5/18) night at ten as we continue our Honor Flight Northland series, we'll meet two brothers who served in World War two more than a half-a-world apart.

Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen