Honor Flight proves perfect daddy-daughter date
Editor's note: Hayhurst accompanied her father on the Honor Flight and relives it here for Connections readers.
By SUSAN HAYHURST
My dad is a hero, even if he doesn't think so himself.
"I don't look at myself as a hero," says my dad, Herb Krauch, BS '49, MS '65. "I enlisted in the Marines because I wanted to. I was sincere about getting into action before the war was over."
Dad served in Hawaii, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Okinawa and China before coming home in 1946. He served on the faculty of Purdue's forestry department from 1958 until he retired in 1987.
Photo by Tom Campbell
For Herb Krauch, the best part of the Honor Flight was spending a day with his daughter and Honor Flight guardian, Susan Hayhurst.
As a little girl, I remember Grandma Krauch telling me, "Tudie, don't ever ask your daddy about his time in the war. He doesn't talk about it, even with me and Grandpa Herbie."
Dad's response to that advice: "I think Mother was worried about me and what I experienced. But I wasn't worried about being upset. Until recent times, I didn't feel people were interested in details like going over the side of the ship, riding onto the beach on a Higgins boat, or wading in the water with dead bodies floating around. I also don't think the public comprehends what it's like to be shooting big artillery or having people shoot at you."
Dad's return to the States was unheralded, even routine.
"After Japan's surrender, we were sent to China. I returned to the U.S. on a remodeled cruise ship and was discharged at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station north of Chicago. There wasn't any big to-do. I wore my uniform, got my discharge pin and papers and took the train back to Indy."
A new "to-do," in the form of World War II Honor Flights, is revving up throughout the country. World War II veterans can apply to fly – all expenses paid – to visit the memorial along with other war memorials and Arlington National Cemetery.
I had the privilege and honor of traveling with Dad as his "guardian" on his Honor Flight Sept. 25, 2012. It was the best father-daughter date I've ever had. The trip brought tears, discovery, celebration and awareness for both of us of just how grateful citizens of all ages are for Dad's generation's military service.
Photo by Tom Campbell
Retired faculty members Ralph Green (center left) and Herb Krauch shared memories and made a few more during an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. .
"Seeing the World War II Memorial for the first time was a lot more than I expected," Dad said. "It was spectacular, and I was so impressed with the scope of the memorial. I had seen snapshots, but until I arrived at the site I had no idea what the whole thing looked like. I was grateful that both battles of the war – the Atlantic and Pacific – were represented."
Perhaps the most engaging part of the day for Dad was the personal attention and adulation he and his fellow veterans received at the airports and the memorials.
"The people we met were so sincere about thanking us – all the veterans – for serving. The staff at the airports, the Honor Flight volunteers, the military officers that greeted us coming off the plane, the schoolchildren visiting the memorials were all so kind to shake our hands, pat our backs and cheer us on."
Seeing several of the war memorials evoked emotion for those who had been celebrated upon their return and for those who were not.