Timbercrest vets take 'Honor Flight'

Myrl E. Frantz is presented a hat and shirt by a member of Indiana Northeast Honor Flight. Photo by Eric Christiansen

By Eric Christiansen

NORTH MANCHESTER -- Twelve veterans residing at Timbercrest Senior Living Community were honored for their service in the United States military and experienced an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., via virtual reality Friday, April 5.

Honor Flight Northeast Indiana brought Washington, D.C., to Timbercrest, allowing veterans to see and hear an actual trip to memorials and other monuments representing previous wars.

“This is very meaningful, I gotta tell you,” Myrl E. Frantz said. “It's hard to put into words. I don't know if I have the vocabulary to say the words that I really feel.”

Frantz enlisted in 1955 because of the G.I. Bill, but it took a month longer than he hoped due to the amount of people trying to get in at the same time.

After basic training, Frantz was sent to Keesler Air Force Base for electronic school where he went for air traffic control.
With a choice between going or Alaska or Korea, he chose Alaska where he was sent to an early warning site in King Salmon.

Frantz ended his service December 1958.

“The time went fast,” he said. “If I was asked to do it again, and I could, I would. I would encourage anybody to do the same thing.

“[Today] really puts chills up and down your back.”

Leo Judy feels the same way Frantz does.

Judy served in the Army from 1962 to 1964. Friday was his second time experiencing a virtual reality honor flight.

“This day here means a whole lot,” he said. “I have seen it once, but I wasn't going to turn this deal down.

Al Williams took a different route than many, entering the service after finishing graduate school.

In February 1969 he went through basic training with the assumption that everybody goes through basic infantry training.

“That happened for almost everybody in the company except six of us who were held over without orders, so we spent two to three weeks hanging around, doing odds and end,” Williams said. “Three of us got sent to the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. We all had graduate degrees, all had backgrounds in biology.”

With that background, the three were sent to one section affiliated with the medical corp. doing human physiological research to environmental issues that would impact soldiers' performance.

“I stepped right into a research program and spent the rest of my time after basic training involved in biological research,” he said. “It was a good experience.”

Williams has been to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials as he traveled with his family. 
“In that aspect of it, I wouldn't want to have a group investing their resources in flying me to Washington, D.C., for memorials I have already seen, although the impression you receive would be very different in a group of veterans. There are a lot of veterans that would benefit a lot more.”

Gene Valentine served in the Army from June 30, 1943 to January 10, 1946.

“I went sent to 776 General Hospital with basic training in Camp Grant, Ill.,” Valentine said. “We went from my major hospital training to Vancouver, Wash. From there, we went to England and set up a hospital there. Following the invasion into France and up in Belgium, we set up another hospital.

For Valentine, he said he is proud of his service, but it wasn't the easiest thing to do.

“I spent from June of '43 trying to forget all of this,” he said. “There are some things you can't forget.”

Ron Lambert spent his service in the National Guard with a year in the Indiana National Guard before moving to Atlanta. He was discharged from the guard and into the reserve.

He was transferred into an active Army reserve unite in East Point, Atlanta where he spent nearly four years.

“I was in from 63-69, but my service was very uneventful compared to what others' were,” Lambert said. “I almost feel funny being honored … but, if somebody said you go, you go.

“[Veterans] should be honored, because there are a lot of people who didn't make it back,” he added. “Yet, on the other hand, it takes all of us to win the war.”

The entire program is due in part to Timbercrest resident and veteran Jim Ribley.

Ribley moved into Timbercrest in 2012 and realized nothing was happening on Veteran's Day.

“I asked the CEO why not, and he said, 'Well, nobody has ever come forward and said they wanted to take care of the meetings and things,' and I said 'well, you've got somebody,'”

Ribley said he had to do some searching to find out who the veterans were since there had been no programs in the past.

After finding about 40 veterans, the programs started five years ago and have been going since.

“Then they came along with this (Honor Flight), and this seemed like a great opportunity,” Ribley said.

Ribley went on an actual trip and said the virtual reality is very legitimate.

“They are seeing and hearing everything,” he said. “We had 24 who could have taken this, and 12 decided to.
“When we get some new people coming in, we'll give them the opportunity when they have another one later.”

Posted on 2019 Apr 09