North Hollywood in the late s. Halison, Frank "Hot Dog":
Picture above with caregiver and sponsor, Bill Weis. Ralph reports that the day started at 4: The men were grouped by colored id tags, and there were 4 sections. They were then bussed to the airplane at Bair Field. Three hundred people joined the send-off. Entertainment on the one hour and 20 minute flight included a younger veteran who led them in the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem.
He continued with military songsand many of the Veterans sang right along. They also had another breakfast on the plane ride. Busses with an escort of police on motorcycles picked them up when they arrived in DC and a narrator accompanied each of the 4 busses.
The colored tag each Veteran wore determined their group and the bus they were assigned. Each of the 86 veterans had their own wheelchair that accompanied them on the bus trip to each memorial attraction.
A Korean greeter narrated the tour. The wall nearby reflects the 19 to double the men making it 38 to represent the 38th Parallel between North and South Korea which the Veterans had fought to protect.
The war ended in But the protection of the 38th Parallel continues even today.
A meal was provided, they were bussed to the airport and at 9 PM, they arrived back in Ft. Wayne to the cheers of people, men, women and children. Ralph himself received a pretty handmade pillow made by a little girl who handed it to him personally.
Ralph was humbled by the experience. That was the day that Ralph E. Ritz was drafted at the age of 23 years. He served from to and took basic training at Ft.
It took 21 days to cross the ocean to En Chow, where the troops took a train and then truck to Camp Beavers just 30 miles from the 38th Parallel and below the demilitarized zone. At pounds, he was trim and fit, working on his machine to keep it washed, shining and in perfect running order.
Two other men became his constant friend and partners, on the tank, a 50 ton beast built in Lima Ohio at the Tank Depot. They were a tank operator and a tank commander, making 4 who manned the tank. Theirs was Tank 25 with the American Star on it. Ralph said out on peace-keeping practice maneuvers, he once got the tank racing along at 58 MPH over the frozen hills and rice patties.
The gas tank could hold gallons of fuel, it had power steering, and an automatic transmission in High and Low, an accelerator and a brake. It was warm enough in the cold, snow-less winters and very hot in the summer no AC.
He saw no combat, but knew of 6 soldiers who were shot in the line of duty while he was there. The men knew if they gave Rusty a stick of gum, he would stay with them all night. He was a Heinz variety, but well-trained. If he heard a noise outside the fence, he attacked or ran-off whoever was out there.
It was and eerie feeling, and he had heard tales of soldiers getting lost and wandering into North Korean Territory. Stewart in Georgia, Ralph finished his last 6 months, then returned to Arcanum, Ohio to raise a family and live a happy life.
He lost his wife, Opal, many years later and then met and fell in love with Nancy Rogers who became his bride, and they recently celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary in Rockford.
Ralph recently retired after 30 years as a bus driver for Parkway Schools, too. The Thanks Thank you Ralph for serving our nation so bravely. You deserved that grand tour of Washington DC! Anyone interested in the Honor Flights that travel nearly year round to assure that our Veterans are able to see their memorials in DC, can call or contact Aleta Weis in Willshire.
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