Belle Fourche Lions Club members Al Shaw and Bill Kunerth – both veterans of World War II – were among the 117
South Dakota veterans who went to late last month as part of the Honor Flight program. Last night (10/28/10) they told Lions members about that experience, and - with a bit of prodding – a bit about their military service. Washington, D.C.
|President Ron Ensz (at left) with fellow Lions who are
World War II veterans -- Bill Kunerth and Al Shaw.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Kunerth told his fellow Lions about Honor Flight. “It was kind of nice to be appreciated.”
Shaw said the entire trip “restored my feeling of existing patriotism and made all of us very proud.”
Honor Flight is a non-profit initiative to honor World War II veterans by transporting them to
“to visit and reflect at their memorials.” The vets make the trip free of charge. More than 700 Washington, D.C. veterans have made the trip, but several more hundred are awaiting their opportunity. While in the Capitol, veterans visit the World War II Memorial, South Dakota , and many other memorials and landmarks. Their trips are paid for by individual and corporate donors. Arlington National Cemetery
It’s a busy two days.
Shaw gave details of the trip, beginning with an orientation meeting at the Rapid City American Legion Club, followed by their flight to
Dulles Airport outside Washington, DC, and their whirlwind tour of sites ranging from the World War II Memorial and Arlington Cemetery, to the Iwo Jima Memorial and the National Air and . Space Museum. We've posted a few photos from their journey in our Lions Photo Gallery
“I could’ve spent all day there,” said Shaw, making special note of the Enola Gay, the WWII vintage B-29 Superfortress that carried the atomic bomb that leveled
during the war. Hiroshima, Japan
Kunerth was impressed with all the memorials.
“The Vietnam Memorial had lots of emotion surrounding it, and the World War II Memorial was the most informative. But the one that impressed me the most was the Korean War Memorial.”
In his book, The Greatest Generation, fellow South Dakota Tom Brokaw described how so many World War II veterans came back from the war and got on with their lives – seldom talking about their experiences.
And so it was with Lions Kunerth and Shaw, who offered little about their war-time experiences. Kunerth allowed only that his Army division saw action on the Siegfried Line in
and that it was “pretty tough.” Shaw was a turret gunner on a B-24 Super Fortress flying missions from an airbase near Germany . He flew 31 missions, surpassing the short life expectancy generally recognized for that hazardous job. Ipswich, England
Our thanks to Lions Al Shaw and Bill Kunerth for their presentation – and especially for their service to our country during World War II. Thank you!