Tony Lamanna’s first idea was to donate a hundred bucks to Honor Flight after the Spokane police officer heard about the national organization. His second idea was to start a local Honor Flight chapter.
Dorothy Tarleton didn’t know she was on the same Pacific island as the atomic bombs that would soon devastate Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a U.S. Army nurse, 1st Lt. Dorothy Coy, as she was known then, cared for the wounded men brought to the 374th General Hospital on Tinian Island. She bandaged wounds, worked with amputees, and watched many men die who’d been evacuated to the hospital from the front lines. To her it was a job – and the details of the war and the battles were not her concern.
Three days before the signing of the Korean armistice, Harold Wadley found himself knee-deep in mud on the front, protecting Seoul from an advancing Chinese army. His ordeal under fire came to an end on July 27, 1953, when North Korea, China and the United States signed a document in Panmunjom. The three years of fighting that began when North Korea tried to forcibly reunify the peninsula resulted in a truce without a treaty, leaving North and South Korea on the brink of catastrophe for the next 50 years.
Lying in a hospital bed, his heart failing, Allan Wood met a priest. The two were sharing a room at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center when Wood discerned the priest’s Dutch accent. They struck up a conversation, and soon these two men, ages 89 and 88, uncovered a shared experience from decades ago that molded their lives.
Ty Carter’s journey to the White House began with a phone call from home in 2000. His older brother, Seth, had been killed by a drunken friend playing with a shotgun during a party. Carter, just 20 and stationed with the Marines as an intelligence clerk in Okinawa, Japan, flew home.
They call her The Colonel, and for good reason. Bernice Leavitt Jackson has presided over a lot of troops. Jackson, a fast-talking Roman candle of memories who’s “going on 80,” has never served directly in the military. But her passion for honoring those who do comes from a deep well of personal contribution: Her husband served in the Army during World War II. Seven of her eight sons served, including David, an Army staff sergeant serving his second tour of duty in Baghdad. Their photos hang on the living room wall, surrounded by every variety of patriotic expression imaginable, from flags to personal letters of thanks from a member of Congress, governor and secretary of the Air Force.
Hugh Smith keeps the relics of his year soldiering across World War II Europe with the 101st Airborne Division in a tattered, brown leather suitcase. Years of surgeries to repair shattered ankles and correct low blood-flow to his brain slow Smith’s efforts to lift the case, but he braces himself against a walker and heaves his spoils onto a table at the Spokane Valley assisted-living apartment he shares with his wife, Anita.
It had been more than a half-century, but Kirby Billington remembered the sound of his ship, the USS Saunter, scraping over the top of a mine in Manila Bay. Finding mines was the Saunter’s mission. But not this way.
Ernie Peluso survived much in his life – serious falls, car accidents, hunting accidents and a kamikaze attack that sank his aircraft carrier during World War II – but he’s not sure why. “I guess God had a plan for me. But I don’t know what it was,” the Post Falls resident said when searching for a reason why he lived through the sinking of the USS Bismarck Sea and a night alone in the South Pacific during the battle of Iwo Jima.
David Sullivan spent parts of World War II aboard aircraft carriers in the North Atlantic and South Pacific, but it’s the odd turns of fate and unusual situations that the former flight surgeon remembered more than the tales of battle. For 18 months he was on an aircraft carrier that spent most of its time hunting Nazi U-boats, and he said the most grueling medical duty was a 25-hour stint treating German sailors from a sub sunk by his ship’s planes. He recalled when military doctors were issued a new wonder drug called penicillin that seemed to work for everything. And he remembered being asked to take the temperature of a monkey to determine whether it could be let on board the ship.