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Tag Archive | "World War II"


Mac Darrell Harless, age 93 of Cedar Springs, passed away, Tuesday evening, October 6, 2020, at his home with his loving family by his side. Mac was born August 17, 1927, in Anderson, Indiana, the son of Loren and Mabel Harless. Mac was preceded in death by his wife of 71 years, Barbara Joan (Murray) Harless; his parents; son, Carl Michael Harless; brother, Ned Harless; sister, Donna L. (Harless) Eastman; great-granddaughter, Madde Morrow; and many relatives and friends. Mac is survived by his daughter, Teressa Taylor (Dan); brother, Jack Harless (Phyllis); Ina Harless; seven grandchildren, Mike Dykstra (Chea), Marci Harless, Melissa Harless, Lori Kolodziej (Jeff), Chris Lyon (Alyson), Andrea Morrow, and Kendra Chapman (Scott); and 13 great-grandchildren; many nieces and nephews; and his granddog, Milo. On April 3, 1949, Mac married Barbara Joan Murray. Mac and Barbara met in 1946 where Barbara was working as a carhop on roller skates at a local drive-in. He stopped to get a sandwich while on leave from the Merchant Marines. Mac told Barbara, “I am going to marry you.” Her reply was, “Oh you think so do you?” and skated away. They did marry and celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary on April 3, 2020. For the first eleven years, they resided in Indiana until 1960 when Mac was transferred to Grand Rapids, Michigan. From there they moved to Big Myers Lake in Rockford, Pine Island Dr., Upper Lake, and then settled in Cedar Springs for the last 29 years.

Mac cherished every moment with his family and loved ones. He was a very dedicated and loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was generous and kind to all he encountered. He found a way to truly connect with everyone he met and was instantly adored by those who knew him. Mac loved sharing his stories, loved to joke, and had many funny sayings that would light up anyone’s day. He shared stories about growing up in Indiana, his time serving in the Merchant Marines during World War II and traveling the world, and most of all stories about his wife, children, grandchildren, loved ones, and good friends. Mac loved helping others, in any way he could. He loved all children and all animals. He also loved spending time with his granddogs who gave him great joy: Toby, Tasha, and Milo. For many years he would sit at the table and watch the birds eat from the many feeders he and Barbara had for them. Fishing was a lifelong hobby of Mac’s which he greatly enjoyed with his grandson and close friends. He retired from Bell Fibre after more than 30 years of service. In 2016 Mac and Barb met Father Lam of St. John Paul II Catholic Church, started RCIA classes, and became members of the church in 2017. Mac had strong faith and dearly loved his church family parishioners. He was an amazing man who will live in our hearts forever. The Mass of Christian Burial for Mac will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 10 at St. John Paul II Catholic Church, Cedar Springs, Rev. Lam T. Le presiding. Burial will follow in Solon Cemetery. All guests are respectfully asked to wear masks and observe appropriate social distance. There will be a video of the service on the church website on Facebook. Memorial contributions can be made to St. John Paul II Catholic Church.

Arrangements by Hurst Funeral Home, Greenville

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Gertrude Maria Dudley, 89, of Riley Township entered eternal life Wednesday, May 16, 2018. She was born on October 5, 1928 in Gresten, Austria to the late Maria Magdalena Pfaffenbichler. She met her husband, Charles Marion Dudley, Sr. in Austria while he was stationed there during World War II. They were married in the fall of 1948 in Freemont, Ohio and enjoyed 20 years of happy marriage until his passing on August 7, 1968. Gertrude attended school in Austria for Pharmacy. She would then go on to work for Awrey Bakery for 14 years. When she wasn’t working, Gertrude had a passion for cooking and loved working in her flower garden. She also enjoyed going for long drives. Most of all she was devoted to her family. Gertrude is survived by her daughter, Rose Mary (Gary) Fisk of Pierson; her son, Charles (Cheryl) Dudley of Riley Township; seven grandchildren, Tina Marie (Micky) Rish, Christina Dudley, Angela Weber, Frank (Melisa) Davidson, Charles Dudley Jr., Chad (Jessica) Dudley, and Christopher Dudley; 16 great-grandchildren; a sister, Gertrude; and several nieces and nephews all of Austria. She was preceded in death by her husband, Charles. A funeral service was held on Wednesday, May 23, 2018 at 7:00 p.m. with visitation being held from 2:00 p.m. until the time of service in the Kammeraad-Merchant Funeral Home, Memphis. To send condolences, visit: www.kammeraad-merchant.com.

Arrangements by Kammeraad-Merchant Funeral Home, Memphis

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Ira John Waters of Big Rapids formerly of Sand Lake passed away Wednesday, January 17, 2018. He was 90. Mr. Waters  was born January 22, 1927 in Grand Rapids to Omon and Ida (Burgess) Waters. Mr. Waters served in the United States Army during World War II and lived in Tustin and worked on the family farm before living in Sand Lake for the last 25 years.  He worked in Grand Rapids for many years and on his farm in Sand Lake. Mr. Waters was a former member of the VFW in Traverse City and enjoyed hunting, fishing and gardening. He is survived by two daughters, Sandra L. Waters of Grand Rapids and Florence Ann Waters of California; six grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Mr. Waters was preceded in death by his parents; two wives; a daughter, Charlotte Waters; a son, Cary S. Waters; three brothers and one sister. Funeral services were held at 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at the Peterson Funeral and Cremation Services in Cadillac with Pastor Mike Harrison-Haefner  officiating and full military rites under the auspices of the Cadillac Area Honor Guard. Friends met the family from 11:00 a.m. until the time of service at the funeral home. Burial will take place Burdell Township Cemetery in Tustin. Memorial contributions may be made to Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. An online guestbook is available at www.petersonfh.com.

Arrangements by Peterson Funeral and Cremation Services, Cadillac

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Albert C. Gebhardt, 90 of Cedar Springs died Monday, December 4, 2017 at Spectrum Health – Butterworth Campus. Al was born March 6, 1927 in Freedom Township, Michigan the son of Albert and Helen (Scherdt) Gebhardt. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army serving during World War II. He became a plastering contractor, then started selling insurance in 1958, eventually owning and operating Gebhardt Insurance Agency in Cedar Springs. Al was an active business leader in Cedar Springs and was a 30-year member of Rotary and had been Chamber of Commerce President. He was a well-known and excellent fisherman and also enjoyed hunting and flying. Surviving are his wife, Letha whom he married on March 27, 1948; children, Gerry (Gloria) Gebhardt, Cheryl (Kirk) Davidson, Mark (Kathy) Gebhardt; grandchildren, David (Katie) Gebhardt, Kristine (Jason) Tworek; great-grandchildren, Abigail and Jonathan Tworek, Lane and Grace Gebhardt; brothers, Raymond Gebhardt, Harold (Lyn) Green. He was preceded in death by his parents, son, Alan Gebhardt; sister, Hilda (Melvin) Davis; brother, Robert (Emma) Gebhardt. The family will greet friends Tuesday, December 12th from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. A memorial service will be held Wednesday, December 13th at 11:00 a.m. the United Methodist Church, Cedar Springs. Pastor Karen Sorden officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery, Cedar Springs. Memorial contributions may be made to the United Methodist Church, Cedar Springs or the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

Posted in ObituaryComments Off on ALBERT C. GEBHARDT



C-obit-KiltsWalter Kilts, 89 of Cedar Springs, went to be with the Lord on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 at his home. Walter was born March 2, 1927 in Grand Rapids, Michigan the son of Howard and Emma (Fisk) Kilts. Walter served his country during World War II in the U.S. Army stationed in Darmstead, Germany. On May 18, 1951 he married Dorothy Fries, living in Solon Township for 55 years. Walter then moved to the Cedarfield Community. He worked for 37 years at Michigan Plating and Stamping “The Bumper”. He enjoyed life on the farm with his family and his vegetable and flower gardens. Surviving are his children, Deborah (Duane) Stendel, Terri (Wayne) Fifield, Allen (Barb) Kilts, Rita (Kevin) Dines; 10 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; one great great-grandson; several step grandchildren and great-grandchildren; sister, Barbara Jean Wainright; sisters-in-law, Betty Kilts, Lois Kilts, and Marilyn Sidlauskus; brothers-in-law, Donald (Carol) Fries, Alvin (Carol) Fries; many nieces and nephews; special friend, Lucille Middleton. He was preceded in death by his parents, wife, Dorothy in 2000; brothers, Norman Kilts, LaVern Kilts; sister, Maxine Powell; brothers-in-law, Russell Powell, Jack Wainright, Raymond Fries, Bob Sidlauskus; sister-in-law, Marcia Fries. The family will greet friends Thursday from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs where the service will be held Friday 11:00 a.m. Chaplain Dan Pflug officiating. Interment Solon Township Cemetery with military honors. Memorial contributions may be made to Spectrum Health Hospice.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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World War II Vet to be awarded honorary diploma

Vet will get diploma at graduation

Seaman 2nd Class Erwin Duane Empie, left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

Seaman 2nd Class Erwin Duane Empie, left Cedar Springs High School in 1944 to enlist in the Navy during World War II.

By Judy Reed

Erwin Duane Empie, 90, has waited a long time to get his high school diploma. But the wait will be over on Thursday, June 2, when he finally receives an honorary diploma from Cedar Springs High School—the school he left in the 1940s so he could serve our country during World War II.

According to Erwin’s son, Mike, his father was originally born in Rossford, Ohio to Glenn Empie and Bessie (Smith) Empie. The family later moved to Cedar Springs. He had a brother Paul, and a sister, Marie.

Erwin enlisted in the Navy in 1944 at the age of 18, while attending Cedar Springs High School. He trained at the Naval Training Center near Chicago, Illinois, and served aboard the USS Lexington CV-16. He was a gunner’s mate, and his rank was Seaman 2nd class, V6. Mike said the ship patrolled mainly in the South China Sea to strike against enemy shipping and air installations.

Erwin served until 1946. In 1955, he married Dorothy Patrick.

Erwin is eligible for the diploma under Public Act 180 of 2001. It says that a high school diploma can be awarded to a veteran if, before graduation from a high school, the military veteran enlisted in or was drafted into the armed forces of the United States during World War II, the Korean Conflict, or the VietNam war.

Mike heard about “Operation Recognition,” (Public Act 181 of 2001) in a newspaper article, and checked with Cedar Springs High School about his father getting an honorary diploma.

According to registrar Susan Andrzejewski, Erwin attended Cedar Springs High School for his freshman year and part of his sophomore year. She said she found an old box in the basement labeled non-graduates of the 1930s. Although he attended in the 1940s, she dug through it and found his transcript. “He was a bit older than our sophomore students today,” she explained, “but back then they sometimes kept students home to help farm.”

So it won’t be just 17 and 18-year-old students in high spirits when they get their diplomas at graduation next week. Erwin Empie and family will be celebrating, too.

“He’s very excited,” said Mike.

Congratulations, Erwin, and thank you for serving our country!

Posted in NewsComments Off on World War II Vet to be awarded honorary diploma

WWII Vet writes home

S/Sgt. Leon (Jack) Frank Bowers, served during World War II

S/Sgt. Leon (Jack) Frank Bowers, served during World War II

By Judy Reed

Several months ago, Cedar Springs resident Jay Bowers shared some information with the Post about his grandfather, S/Sgt. Leon (Jack) Frank Bowers, who served during World War II. He is one of two living WWII veterans highlighted in this issue, and he gives us just a brief glimpse of World War II through a letter he wrote home to the local newspaper, The Cedar Springs Clipper.

Jack Bowers was born in Sparta, Michigan in September 1918. When he received his selective service notice in May 1944, he was farming in Cedar Springs. He entered active service in WWII in September 1944 at the age of 26. He had a wife and two children, Jim and Jerry.

Bowers served in the 227th Quartermaster Battalion, HQ detachment, as a supply clerk. He received the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Service medal, the Good Conduct medal, and the Sharp Shooter medal. He officially separated from the service on April 27, 1946.

While there, he wrote to the Clipper Girls, and they ran his letter in the paper. He has a clipping of it framed with his stripes, along with some clippings published about him and other servicemen on their way home.

The title of the piece was: PVT. Jack Bowers Writes from the Pacific, and below that was Mariana Islands. His letter reads:

Dear Clipper Girls: I thought I would write you a line. I am not very good at writing letters, so if you can’t make out this letter, call my wife. I am sure she can.

I haven’t received a Clipper since March. I sure will be glad when they start catching up with me. I am sure it is not your fault. I haven’t received any because since April 8 when we left the states I have traveled about 12,000 miles. We first went down to New Caledonia, then we left there and came back up to the Marianas, on which there are still a few Japs. There are lots of B-29s here.

There is an old slogan, “Join the Navy and see the world.” Well, I have a better one. “Get drafted in the Army and they will show you the world.”

I am sending you a Stars and Stripes paper, and also the Yank magazine, which I thought you would enjoy reading. It probably will take a month to reach you, but if it is like it is over  here, dates don’t mean much, just so it is news from home.

I remember an incident on the way up here. We stopped at an island they brought aboard ship some old newspapers and during the scramble to see if we could find a paper from home I came out with a paper from Monroe, Michigan. After all that was quite close to home. It was dated April 25.

I sure will be thankful when this war is all over, so we all can go home and begin our jobs where we left them and make an honest living for my family and take my responsibility as a Christian, and worship God the way we wish. And hope and pray that my boys won’t go through another war.

Yours truly, Pvt. Jack Bowers

When the Post last spoke with Jay, his grandfather was living in Texas with relatives, and he will be 98 years old in September.

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Donald L. Kelley

12C-obit-kelleyDonald L. Kelley, 89, of Cedar Springs, died Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at Spectrum Health – Butterworth Campus. Mr. Kelley was born September 30, 1926 in Laura, Illinois, the son of Henry and Estelle (Emerson) Kelley. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War and retired from the Army in 1968 after 23 ½ years of service. He was a member of the Moose Lodge #50 and the Kent City American Legion. He was an avid golfer and fisherman and always enjoyed a beer with the boys. Surviving are his wife of 63 years, Caroline; son, Roger of Broomfield, Colorado, sister, Lois Kneer of Florida. He was preceded in death by two sons, Kelvin and Patrick; stepson, Paul Curry; brother, Lester; sisters, Margaret and Myrna. Cremation has taken place and there will be no services.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs.

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6C-obit-haggertyLeonard J. Haggerty, 90, of St. Louis, Michigan, died Saturday, February 6, 2016 at his home. Mr. Haggerty was born May 9, 1925 in Pine Woods, New York, the son of Walter and Edith (Krebser) Haggerty. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II for 30 months. He completed basic training in Macon, Georgia, and then went to the Hawaiian Islands. After the service, Leonard worked at Darrick’s Greenhouse in Cooperstown, New York. In 1947 he left with Victor and Lee Sessions to come to Michigan. He met the love of his life, Charlotte and worked greenhouses in Chicago and Cadillac until he bought his own in Ludington, Michigan. He and Charlotte worked there for 30 years before retiring at age 67. They then moved to Conklin, Michigan near Ravenna. Charlotte passed away in 2009 and Leonard moved to St. Louis, Michigan in 2011.

Surviving are his sisters, Marjory Gregory, Dorothy Duncan, Flora Bennett, Arlene (Jim) Oliver, Marion (William) Royce, Irene Cook; brother, Kenneth (Sandra) Haggerty, all of New York; his adopted boy, Kenneth (Vickie) Sherlock; little helper, Timmy; cat Tiger; many nieces and nephews. He was also preceded by a brother, James Haggerty in 2009.

Visitation will be held Saturday, February 13 from 11:00 am until time of service at 1:00 pm at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. Pastor Randy Brandon officiating. Private interment in the spring at Solon Township Cemetery.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

Posted in Church Connection, ObituaryComments Off on LEONARD J. HAGGERTY



E. Ray Gordon, 89, of Cedar Springs, went to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday, November 6, 2015. E. Ray Gordon was born on January 17, 1926 in Sand Lake, Michigan, the son of Fay and Cora Gordon. After graduating valedictorian from Cedar Springs High School he enlisted in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He then married his high school sweetheart, Janet Gunnell on December 29, 1945. He went on to graduate from the University of Michigan with a degree in civil engineering. He was a founding partner in WBDC, Inc. He was a past president of the Exchange Club of Grand Rapids and a past officer of the Michigan Society of Professional Engineers. He had been a scout master for Boy Scout Troop #222. Ray enjoyed fishing, golfing, traveling and attending Cedar Springs School athletic events. He was a member of the Cedar Springs United Methodist Church and the Cedar Springs School Board for 29 years. Surviving are his children, Susie (Ken) Parker, Doug Gordon, Pam (Tim) Covell, Joel Gordon; 16 grandchildren; 27 great grandchildren; brother, Murry (Eva) Gordon; brothers and sisters-in-law, Cliff Snyder, Fred (Carollee) Gunnell, John (Mayda) Gunnell, Nancy (Ed) Bremmer, Shirley (Charlie) Gumina, Cam (John) Teusink, Maxine Gordon, Suzanne Gordon; several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, Janet (Gunnell) Gordon; son, Tom Gordon; brothers, Ken Gordon, Don Gordon, Fay Gordon; sister, Lillian Snyder; brother-in-law, Tom Gunnell; sisters-in-law, Helen Gordon and Lorraine Gordon. The family received friends Monday, Nov. 9 at the Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs. The service was held Tuesday 11:00 am at the United Methodist Church, Cedar Springs. Pastor Steve Lindeman officiating. Interment Elmwood Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the United Methodist Church, 140 S. Main St., Cedar Springs, MI 49319.

Arrangements by Bliss-Witters & Pike Funeral Home, Cedar Springs

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Mr. Richard B. Goodell of Fruitland Park, Florida, formally of Cedar Springs, Michigan, age 91, passed away Monday, November 2, 2015. He was born on Saturday, February 16, 1924, to Garner and Jessie (Heiss) Goodell in Solon Township and was a graduate of Cedar Springs High School. As a truehearted countryman, Richard proudly and courageously served his flag and country in the United States Marine Corps during World War II. After the war, he was a dairy farmer for most of his life, which he truly enjoyed. Richard also was mail carrier for the U.S. Postal Service. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all who knew him. Richard is survived by his beloved wife Betty; loving children, Bonnie (Zane) Ziviski, Janet (Larry) Gomaat, Keith (Cheryl) Goodell, Robert K. (Cathy) Brooks, Linda C. (Ron) Harper; ten grandchildren; nine great grandchildren; one great-great grandchild coming in February; sisters, Thelma Morris, Marie (Winfield) Bigney, and Donna Rhoades; sisters-in-law, Rosemary Goodell, Dorothy Visger; brothers-in-law, Edward Batchelder, John Batchelder, Shirley (John) Brenner. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Eleanor; brother, Donald; sister, Norma Robinson; son-in-law, Jay Markham; brothers and sisters-in-law, Natalie (Charles) Bolthouse, George (Geraldine) Batchelder, Elmer (Laura) Batchelder, Bob Visger, Harley Morris, Raymond Rhoades, and Patricia Batchelder. The funeral service for Richard will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 12, 2015, at Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe Street, Rockford, MI 49341. A time of visitation with the family was held from 2:00 until 4:00 p.m. and from 6:00 until 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 11, 2015, at Pederson Funeral Home.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home


Posted in ObituaryComments Off on RICHARD B. GOODELL

WWII Veteran takes flight of a lifetime

WWII Vet George Hesley, right, and his escort, National Guard Captain   Brian Anderson.

WWII Vet George Hesley, right, and his escort, National Guard Captain Brian Anderson.


WWII Vet George Hesley

WWII Vet George Hesley

It was in the early 1940s when a young George Hesley was called from building B-24 bombers in Ypsilanti, to bear arms in World War II.

On Saturday, September 27, the 91-year-old WWII Army Veteran from Cedar Springs was found winging his way to Washington D.C., on one last mission, along with 79 other Veterans, courtesy of Talons Out Honor Flight. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for most of the men to visit the memorial to them for service to their country.

Each Veteran was accompanied by a Military member “Guardian.” George’s escort was National Guard Captain Brian Anderson, son of Rex and Kathy Bremmer, also of Cedar Springs.

Talons Out Honor Flight is Southwest Michigan’s hub for the national Honor Flight Network, a non-profit charity organization, whose purpose is to honor our World War II Veterans with an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. Each Guardian donates funds for the privilege of escorting their Veteran, helping to make it possible, for as many as possible, to make the journey.

George was greeted by two columns of military personnel standing at attention upon arrival at the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport. Check in time was a very early 5:30 a.m. and breakfast was served as the Mall City Harmonizers sang the Armed Services Military Songs, God Bless America, America the Beautiful and other patriotic songs in the background.

Throughout the event, there were retired and active duty Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard personnel interacting with the Veterans and attending to their every need.

Following breakfast the Veterans boarded a Delta MD90. The jet then rolled through a water cannon salute on the tarmac, which was lined with Military, Talons Out Volunteers and families standing at attention to honor those on board as the plane passed by.

The Veterans also enjoyed water cannon salutes upon landing and takeoff at the Reagan International Airport and were amazed at the groups of people who were there to greet them at every turn.

The first stop on their tour was the World War II Memorial followed by the Lincoln, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. The bus tour also included all the various landmarks around Washington D.C. and the Veterans and Guardians alike enjoyed a full police escort, complete with sirens and flashing lights, throughout the tour.

The next stop was Arlington National Cemetery for the changing of the guard where over 220,000 of our dead are buried. George was especially touched when thinking about those men and women who gave their all for America; some of whom he most likely trained for war. Visits were then made to the Marine Corps Memorial, the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon and the Air Force Memorial.

Upon arriving back at the Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International Airport, the Veterans’ buses were led to the Air Zoo by fire trucks with sirens blaring, passing through an archway made up of two ladder trucks holding a huge American Flag and a stunning display of hot air balloons that were lit up for the occasion.

They were then escorted along a pathway to the Air Zoo lined with hundreds of people of all ages, who clapped, whistled and thanked them for their service as they rolled by. The crowd of people reached out and shook the Veterans’ hands, expressing how much their sacrifices were appreciated and welcoming them home from that “One Last Mission.” There were tears of joy and smiles on all faces as they drank in the love that was shown by one and all.

Veterans remarked over and over at the numbers of people who came out to greet them and most of all with the sincerity with which they were thanked. One Veteran remarked that it would take a week to wipe the smile off his face, while George mused it had taken 91 years for him to become a celebrity!

Read George’s personal story on page 8.

For more info, visit their website at http://talonsouthonorflight.org or their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/TalonsOutHonorFlight.


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