Honor Flight 2018

A 2018 Honor Flight participant, Marine and Korean War vet Neil Helgath of Green Valley, center, is greeted as he makes his way through the airport.

The final trip of the year for Honor Flight Southern Arizona will head to Washington, D.C., on Saturday with 23 veterans, including six from Green Valley.

Richard “Dick” Andrews


Richard "Dick" Andrews

Dick Andrews, 84, served in ROTC and Naval Reserve from April 1953 through the summer of 1958. His service time was spent in Fort Polk, Louisiana. and then at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where he spent administrative time at a training center for tanks.

Andrews said that except for two men in his unit being sent to Lebanon during the Lebanon crisis it was a pretty quiet time.

He has been to Washington, D.C., but is anticipating viewing the memorials differently since his son Steven, who lives in Corona de Tucson, will be his guardian.

“I want to see more of the World War II Memorial and the Korean Memorial,” Andrews said.

The Korean Memorial stood out as especially poignant when he visited the site.

Annella Campbell


Annella Campbell 

Annella Campbell, 89, served as a Navy nurse from summer 1950 to June 1953, during the Korean War. She attended boot camp in the Great Lakes area with further training at Balboa Hospital in San Diego.

Campbell served as a nurse in the ob/gyn departments at naval hospitals in Bremerton, Washington, and Astoria, Oregon.

She vividly remembers Dr. Robert Bradley, who spoke kindly to patients and their husbands and would remind husbands to give their wives nine months of tender love and care for what they endured.

Campbell didn’t think to apply to Honor Flight because she didn’t serve in a battle capacity.

“My friend Carol Simbari pushed me for six months and I finally applied,” she said.

She flew in and out of D.C. years ago but hasn’t seen any of the memorials.

“As an artist I’ll have my sketchbook and camera with me and I want to study the architecture of the memorials,” she said.

Gilbert “Gil” Filko


Gilbert "Gil" Filko

Gil Filko, 84, served in the Navy from March 1954 to April 1956. His service time was briefly spent at Los Alamos, New Mexico, with the remainder of his time at Los Alamitos Naval Air Station in Southern California.

Filko remembers a humorous event as a member of the Enlisted Men’s Club, when he tended bar.

“I could do a flat-footed jump on the bar during the day when I thought no one was around. But someone saw me do it and I became the flat-footed bar jumper. And I made some good money with people betting on me,” Filko said.

Filko is looking forward to the camaraderie with everyone on the trip to Washington and visiting the memorial of Marines raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi during the battle of Iwo Jima.

His neighbor and pal Ed Hamby will be his guardian.

John Fitzgerald


John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald, 85, served in the Army from August 1953 to August 1956.

His time was spent at Fort Eustis, Virginia, and Travis Air Force Base in northern California, where he taught helicopter maintenance.

While stationed in Virginia, he recalls a time when he had two weeks off. He made his way by air from Virginia to California. Returning to Virginia had its challenges.

“It took four days. I flew on a DC-3, a DC-6, a B-26 and a C-47,” Fitzgerald recalled.

He had stops in Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio and Massachusetts. By the time he got to Massachusetts he was broke so he was given a voucher to travel to Virginia by train and had to explain his AWOL status.

Fitzgerald visited D.C. in 1954, but hasn’t see the war memorials. He’s looking forward to seeing those memorials and enjoying camaraderie with other veterans.

Prescott “Pres” Johnson


Prescott "Pres" Johnson

Pres Johnson, 89, served in the Army from June 1952 to May 1954. After training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, he was sent to South Korea where he was part of the 34th Infantry Regiment and was involved in security, intelligence and reconnaissance.

Johnson recalls soldiers visiting a local orphanage for children who lost parents in the war. He contacted his church in Belfast, Maine, and bundles of clothing and other necessities kept coming. That was a pleasant memory for him.

Another memory was being on a train moving prisoners from Pusan to Panmunjom.

“The train was blocked because the provost marshal didn’t want to release the Chinese prisoners,” Johnson said.

He visited Washington, D.C., many years ago before war memorials were built and is looking forward to visiting and appreciating all of them.

Johnson’s son Kent will fly in from Spokane to be his guardian.

Gerald “Jerry” Metz


Gerald "Jerry" Metz

Jerry Metz, 88, served in the Air Force from April 1951 to November 1952, during the Korean War.

His service time was spent at Moody Air Force Base near Valdosta, Georgia, and at George Air Force Base near Victorville, California, which closed in 1992.

Metz recalls using his barber skills on comrades.

“I used to charge 75 cents for a haircut and gave credit to guys who were broke,” he said with a smile.

He’s never been to D.C., and as one who enjoys history said he is looking forward to seeing all the memorials and especially the Lincoln Memorial, which he calls “inspiring.”

Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at ellen2414@cox.net.