One local veteran was greeted with a pleasant surprise at Waid Funeral Home on Monday afternoon.
What 70-year-old Joe Kretschmer thought was a routine trip to update records with his wife Phyllis, soon turned out to be a presentation of sponsorship on behalf of funeral home staff, for Joe’s son Joey to accompany him on Monday’s “Never Forgotten Honor Flight” to Washington, DC.
Along with the presentation, Joe and his family were greeted by Honor Flight coordinator Jim Campbell, along with coffee and refreshments.
According to Campbell, Joe will be just one of many Vietnam veterans on the upcoming flight.
“In the past, a majority of veterans were World War II and Korean War veterans. Your flight will be our first of mainly Vietnam veterans,” Campbell said to Kretschmer with a grin.
“Oh yeah?” Joe replied with a little smile of his own. “This is really gonna be something, I’m getting antsy already!”
Kretschmer served 2 years and 10 months in the US Army Corps of Engineers, 10 months of which was spent in Vietnam with Alpha Company, 8410th Engineer Battalion based out of Fort Ord, CA.
“I have been waiting for over a year for this,” Joe said. “I think seeing all the memorials is what I am most excited about. I have seen the Vietnam and Korean war memorials on TV, but have never seen them in person. I know it will be a long day, but I’ve had plenty of those in my life. It will be worth it.”
“It would have been nice if all this happened 30 years ago,” commented Phyllis Kretschmer, “but it sure is nice to see it happening now. He has been so excited!”
Waid Funeral Home also made a donation to Vietnam veteran Doug Alderton, who served in the Air Force, so his chaperone could accompany him on the upcoming Honor Flight.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this event for our veterans,” said Waid Funeral Home manager Anna Winningham. “We want to show our appreciation and support, and this is a great way to do it.”