Hudson World War II veterans take honor flight to Washington, D.C.
Two World War II vets and residents of Wintergreen Apartments in Hudson took the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, and enjoyed the trip even with some monuments closed because of the government shutdown.
John Angleson, 93, and Roger Jewett, 94, weren’t barred from some of the scheduled monuments on the Mall. The World War II Memorial was opened to the veterans of the global conflict.
“We were able to visit the World War II Memorial, the Air Force Memorial and we came in the back door to the Iwo Jima Monument,” said Angleson. “We also got to Arlington Cemetery for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”
“The Navy Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial Wall and the Lincoln Memorial were closed,” said Jewett, who added that even if the World War II Memorial was closed, “we would have gone in anyway.”
John Angleson joined the Air Force (then called the Army Air Corps) on Feb. 5, 1941, just two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor that kicked off the war. “I was married on Feb. 1 and went into service on Feb. 5,” he said.
He served as a radio operation in Army Communications and was stationed in New Caledonia and Espiritu Santo, some 200 miles north of Guadalcanal in the South Pacific.
“The Army had radio stations all through the islands,” Angleson said.
Jewett joined the Army in October 1941 to avoid the draft. “My number was up for the draft so I left college at Michigan State and joined the Army. They had a one-year draft at the time. Then Pearl Harbor came along and I was in for the duration,” he said.
Jewett went through Officers Candidate School and began his service as a second lieutenant in the 96th Infantry Division, medical battalion. He was the operations officer in charge of making sure casualties got back from the front to the medical staff.
He served in the Philippines during the battle in the Gulf of Leyte and Okinawa where he said there were a lot of casualties and a lot of mud that made it hard to transport the wounded.
The battle of Okinawa resulted in the highest number of casualties in the Pacific Theater during the war. Allied troops had an estimated 65,000 casualties of all kinds including 14,009 dead. Japan lost 77,166 either killed or committed suicide, according to historical accounts.
While in Okinawa, Jewitt had a close call. While he was in a foxhole under a pup tent a Japanese Zero fighter was shot down and the fuselage land on the foxhole. It is not unclear if the Zero was a kamikaze, but the battle became known as “Typhoon of Steel” from the intensity of kamikaze attacks and the numbers of allied ships and armored vehicles that assaulted the island.
When the war ended Jewitt was back in the Philippines for training in preparation of the invasion of Japan.
Angleson was on Espiritu Santo when the war ended on Aug. 14, 1945. They were both very thankful to see the end because American troops were expected to be involved in the invasion of Japan next, which probably would have inflicted a significant number of casualties. A formal Japanese surrender ceremony took place on the USS Missouri on Sept. 2, 1945.
At the end of the war, Jewitt stayed in the Army because of the Korean War. “I didn’t want to start over again if I was called back,” he said.
Jewitt served 30 years in the Army Reserve and was a full-bird colonel when he retired in 1972.
Both men were impressed with the organization of the Honor Flight out of the Twin Cities Hubert H. Humphrey terminal.
“It was a real military operation,” said Jewitt.
The flight was sponsored by Minnesota Vietnam Veterans Charity. The two men started at 4 a.m. on their way to registering at the airport at 5 a.m. The Sun Country charter flight left at 6:15 a.m.
Every step of the way was organized. Buses took them from the airport to the monuments; lunch was served on the bus. An evening meal was set up for the group at a restaurant. Their plane departed at 8:55 p.m. and returned to the Twin Cities at 11:45 p.m. to a welcome home reception.
Angleson said the welcoming crowd was unbelievable. “There were bag pipes playing and wall to wall people,” he said.
Just as impressive, Angleson said, was the big crowd on hand at 5 a.m. to send them off. “There were kids and people of all ages on hand,” he said.