Roberts veteran set for Freedom Honor FlightTony Koshenina is gearing up for a whirlwind flight to Washington D.C. and back at the end of May. He will be traveling on a Freedom Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial with a group of fellow veterans.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Tony Koshenina is gearing up for a whirlwind flight to Washington D.C. and back at the end of May.
He will be traveling on a Freedom Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial with a group of fellow veterans.
Koshenina, 88, served in the Army on a hospital ship in the Philippines in World War II although he had been trained as a military policeman.
“I went through two weeks of MP school, had a furlough then was sent to Manila,” Koshenina said during a conversation in his Roberts residence. “When I got there I was immediately assigned to the medical corps to assist a dentist.
We were in a nice building,” he said. “It had been a Japanese brewery and we slept in the same building.”
Koshenina grew up on a farm near Upsala, Minn. “We had a pretty big farm and I had a two-year deferment (from the draft) to help out on the farm. Then I let myself get drafted,” he said.
He joined the Army in October 1944. When the war ended, Koshenina re-enlisted for an additional year.
“As the war ended, they began to ship guys home,” he said. “There was something called the Red Apple that if you re-enlisted for a year, you got 60 days furlough.
Koshenina took his furlough and when he returned for duty he was assigned to the hospital ship USS Comfort in San Francisco. “A kamikaze had hit the ship and it was in San Francisco for repairs,” he said.
The ship returned to Manila and made stops in Japan. Koshenina was discharged on Dec. 13, 1956.
He heard about the Freedom Honor Flights a couple years ago and contacted the organization in Ohio. He didn’t hear anything for about a year, then was assigned to a flight out of La Crosse.
“I heard there were flights out of the Twin Cities, which is a lot closer,” he said and made arrangements to transfer his flight to a May 22 departure. There is organizational meeting May 8 in Roseville, Minn., where he expects to get more information on the trip.
Koshenina said 100 veterans and 60 guardians (volunteers to assist the vets) will make the flight. The first Honor Flight took place in May 2005 from Springfield, Ohio, and took 12 vets to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The mission of the organization is to transport America’s veterans to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their services and sacrifices. Priority is given to the most senior veterans.
Koshenina said his brother, Hank, was killed in Europe during the war and was an inspiration for him to make the trip. “He was a tail gunner on a B-17,” he said. “We learned he is buried in Belgium.”
For more information, go to www.honorflight.org.