Emotions run high when four WWII vets tour Washington, D.C.

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By MICHELE BURRIS

At 2:00am on September 28, 2011, four World War II veterans from Adrian VFW Post 1935 headed to Kansas City International Airport for what would become the trip of a lifetime.  Tracy Rugg, Bruce Buhr, Kenneth Limpus and W.K. Jenkins, accompanied by Kenneth’s daughter-in-law Mary, left Adrian for a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C.  The tour was organized and paid for by the Honor Flight Network of Kansas City.  When the veterans arrived to the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C., they were greeted by a big crowd of people who were cheering, congratulating and welcoming the men who served in the second World War. 

On this 24-hour tour of Washington, D.C., the first stop was the WWII Memorial.  Before touring the Memorial, prayers were said for the three veterans who were unable to make the trip, including Adrian’s John Petty.  After that the veterans were greeted by Senator Roy Blunt.  The tour was one of high emotion.  W.K. Jenkins wrote, “One element robbed us of what little composure we had as we entered the Memorial, the words of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz inscribed onto a stone block on the eastern corner of the Memorial:  They fought together as brothers-in-arms.  They died together and now they sleep side by side.  To them we have a solemn obligation.”

In what Kenneth Limpus described as “the most moving part of the entire trip” was the wall of 4,048 gold stars.  Reflecting the reality of WWII, each gold star represents 100 Americans who died in the second world war.  Inscribed above the stars were the words, “Here we mark the price of freedom.” 

Jenkins offered his final thoughts, which he wrote down immediately after the trip:  “There were so many who never found their way home to live out the rest of their lives, get jobs, marry and raise families, or retire and cherish a grandchild on his lap.  Many died not knowing whether their sacrifices would be sufficient enough to preserve liberty in this great country.  But it was enough.  More than enough.”

Managing Editor’s note:  The details of this trip are due largely to the written words of W.K. Jenkins, as well as interviews with each of the veterans and Mary Limpus.  My most sincere thank you to Tracy, Bruce, Kenneth, W.K. and John for the freedom you have given our families, our community, and our nation.  May God bless you all.