Honoring Our Veterans

My dad, Wilton A. Lisk with U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp, Jr.
November 11, 2010

Happy Veteran's Day to all of the former and current members of our Armed Forces and thank you for your service to our country!

My favorite veteran is my dad, Wilton Allan Lisk.  In September 2010, he joined 105 WWII veterans from Central Florida to travel to Washington, DC for the day on the Volusia County Honor Air flight.  The flight was sponsored by three Deland Rotary Clubs and U.S. Airways. Dad was the president of the Rotary Club in Vernon, Connecticut, so he wore his Coast Guard hat that he always wears with his diamond Rotary Club pin on it. 

Volusia Honor Air is an incredible program where WWII veterans are taken to Washington DC to be honored for their service.  The three Deland Rotary Clubs pair two WWII veterans with a "guardian" who looks after them on the trip.  A physician and four nurses also accompanied the veterans.

The veterans' day started out with a breakfast and send off by dancers and an honor guard.  Water canons shot over the top of the airplane from a fire truck leaving and arriving at the Daytona Airport and at the, Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC to honor the veterans.  In Washington, DC as they came from the gate, they were greeted by cheers from welcoming supporters, former Congresswoman Suzanne Cosmos (D-FL) and Congressman John Mica (R-FL).

The group visited Arlington Cemetery, the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.  They had a special luncheon at the Library of Congress.  U.S. Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp, Jr. was one of the guest speakers and dad got to meet and speak to him.

Volusia Honor Air contacts the veterans' family members before the trip to secretly write letters to the veterans for a surprise "mail call" that they have on the return flight.  All of the veterans receive a pouch containing letters from family, friends, and strangers who thanked them for their service.  Dad got letters from his children, grandchildren, friends, relatives, boy scouts, girls scouts, civic organizations, government officials and strangers. 

I went to the Daytona Airport to welcome back the veterans after their trip with my three daughters and grandson.  The airport was filled with veterans, family members, friends, scouts and community members.  Everyone had flags and shouted and clapped as each veteran passed through the crowd.

Volusia Honor Air is an extraordinary way to honor the WWII veterans and I am grateful to them for the joy that they brought to my dad and the others veterans on the flight.

About My Favorite Veteran's Service
My dad served in the Coast Guard in WWII as a Motor Machinist Mate First Class. He was already a skilled mechanic when he joined the Coast Guard.  He started his Coast Guard career at the Manhattan Beach, NY Training Station.  He was later was stationed at motor machinist mate school in Groton, CT.

In 1943 dad went to Charleston, South Carolina Sullivan's Island Coast Guard Station.  After that his home base was St. Augustine, Florida. He served in the Caribbean on a 104-foot sub chaser that assisted destroyers that were protecting convoys from German submarines. 

He also served on a freight and supply vessel that traveled from New Orleans through the Panama Canal to San Pedro, CA. Then he was a crew member of  APA Troop Transport to  Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands in Micronesia.  He was on a LCI (landing craft infantry)  taking marines ashore.

Dad then returned to the Coast Guard Receiving Station in Wilmington, CA. While he was there he met and hung out with the Coast Guard stars from the "Tars and Spar Show" that raised money for war bonds.  They were also waiting for their new assignments. The stars included Victor Mature, Sid Cesar, Cesar Romero, and Frank Westmore, a makeup artist.  From there he took a train to Seattle to Paine Field Army Airport where the Coast Guard troops slept in tents waiting to be assigned to Alaska.

Dad then served on isolated duty on the island of Attu, one of the Alaskan Aleutian Islands at the Theodore Point Attu Loran Station. (My dad's name is in this article.) With one other motor machinist, dad kept Caterpillar generators running for the station that consisted of five Quonset huts.

After that tour of duty dad went to Boston, Massachusetts where he served in machine shop overhauling carbonators for ships. Then went to Maine to pick up a CGAR boat to bring to Charleston, SC and took train back to Boston where he was discharged. He returned home to Connecticut. Here is a photo of my dad and mom.

My dad gave me his coast guard uniform. I wore it when I was in high school when bell bottoms and military uniforms were popular.  I still have it hanging in my closet.  

Tom Brokaw wrote The Greatest Generation, a book about WWII and of course, my dad bought and read it. Dad wrote to Mr. Brokaw to tell him he left the Coast Guard out of the book. 

All of us can honor veterans on this day and throughout the year:
  • Help collect and preserve the remembrances of American war veterans and civilian workers who supported them by participating in the Library of Congress's Veterans History Project
  • Donate cell phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers. The donated cell phones go to ReCellular
  • Make holiday cards to send to troops. A Million Thanks has letter drop off locations across America.
  • Bake cookies for the troops. Treats for Soldiers has tips on how to ship the cookies. 
  • Operation Gratitude accepts Halloween candy left over and your candy can go to a good use. Several organizations are currently collecting candy donations to add to care packages they send to deployed soldiers. 
  • Collect items to send to the organization Give 2 the Troops
  • Become a USO volunteer in the US and Europe. 

HAPPY VETERANS DAY to Dad (I love you and am so proud of you) and to all the veterans!

Here are some photos from the Volusia Honor Air Trip to Washington DC.  


Anonymous said...

Nice tribute. Happy Veterans Day to all the vets!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Lisk for your service to our Country. Happy Veterans Day.