ByNovember 12, 2022 8:50 a.m.
BUCYRUS — Veterans Day takes on new meaning this year for three Crawford County veterans.
Men who faithfully served in our nation’s military years ago. Veterans who were recognized Thursday for their service during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Washington, DC, as part of the Honor Flight Columbus Network.
For Richard Rowlinson, Roger Rowlinson and John Walker, it was an honor.
“It was just remarkable,” said Richard, a Galion resident who joined his brother and brother-in-law on the flight and tour of our nation’s capital’s war memorials. “We saw Arlington, my highlight, and we saw the changing of the guards.”
“It was good, really good,” said Roger, a US Army veteran who enlisted in 1967 and served on freighters in Thailand for two years. “It was a beautiful day and when we got off the bus some school children even came to thank us for our service.”
The three departed at 5 a.m. Thursday for John Glenn International Airport. A journey that took them and about 180 other veterinarians by bus to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and other war memorials, all organized by the association.
Richard and the others qualified for the trip as veterans who had served before May 7, 1975. He was also in the military, leaving home in August 1966 to become a transportation (communications) operator in Korea. Richard quickly rose through the ranks and was promoted to sergeant in 1967.
John, a resident of Bucyrus, was 18 when he joined the army the same year. He was stationed at military bases in South Carolina and Texas before being sent to Germany and then Vietnam, where he worked as a doctor in a field hospital. He was released in 1969.
Sunny skies prevailed for the trio in Washington, where they had the opportunity to talk to other vets, tourists, teachers and students. They were greeted and greeted with colorful signs, handshakes and even a few punches from the crowd.
But the men say nothing was more memorable than the welcome they received in Columbus on Thursday night.
A homecoming at the airport filled with hundreds of well-wishers, all present to celebrate their return – and to thank them for their service.
“It was amazing.
It was quite an event. I didn’t expect something like this,” said Richard, who was picked up by his daughter, Kate Perkins from Galion. “What stood out to me the most was the number of young people who came out and shook hands with us.”
His younger brother was also moved by the American flags and the show of support. “Everyone welcomed me home,” Roger said. “My two boys were there, along with their families and everything. I saw it, but seeing it and being there and all that was a different thing.
John accepted. “Last night was a real reward for me, Richard and Roger. You can’t imagine what kind of greeting,” he said on Friday morning. “And then I looked up and there was the whole my family so, needless to say, that was a mark in my life.”
And one for memory books. Especially on Veterans Day.