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Local veterans take the Honor Flight: Meet AndySubmitted: 09/10/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ninety one local veterans took the trip of a lifetime to the nation's capitol yesterday. The Never Forgotten Honor Flight made its thirteenth trip to Washington D.C.

Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm got to go with them. The veterans shared their stories and wisdom with her-- and perhaps most memorably-- they shared their experiences yesterday.

We'd like to share those with you this week. Tonight, meet Andy.

"Doing a lot of tears, I'll tell you. Because I'm proud of those guys. I don't care how much we served, or how much we suffered; they paid the absolute price," says Andy DeFelice, from Nekoosa.

Andy served with the U.S. Army in the 60's. Normally, that would put him lower on the list-- The Never Forgotten Honor Flight takes the oldest veterans to Washington D.C. first. But Andy is one of three special veterans on the trip.

"You know, I've been a sick man. It's part of the reason I'm here, because I'm a very sick man with Leukemia and Prostate Cancer, and no stomach," says Andy.

Andy's one of three terminally ill Vietnam era vets along for this trip. It's the war he identifies with most, though he served mostly in Germany through the start of Vietnam. Even so, there was no shortage of action in his service.

"We had a great opportunity with "Operation Big Lift", when they airlifted all those troops over on maneuvers," says Andy.

He regrets not keeping in touch with those Army buddies. But that makes this trip with 90 other veterans all the more special.

"Once you're in the service you're in a brotherhood you'll never, ever loose. That's just the way it is. I don't care if you're Army, Navy, Marines or what. You're a brotherhood. That's what I loved about it and I still do," says Andy.

Andy saw the trip as an opportunity to pay tribute to people who died in battle. He couldn't believe anyone would want to honor his service. But his arrival in Washington proved him wrong.

Forty eight years after he left the Army, Andy got to see the memorial built to honor his generation of service men and women. What struck him most was seeing all the names of those who were lost.

"Sadness and shock of all these lives. It's just a waste... a waste," says Andy.

Like many veterans, some memories from war time still follow him. But what haunts him is how other soldiers were affected.

"The way those guys were treated when they came back from Nam; I'll never forget that. Because when you serve, you serve your country. And that's what those guys did. That's the sad part. I don't know, words can't express the way I feel about these guys. All of these guys. And this trip and what everybody's done for us," says Andy.

Seeing the memorial makes him feel like they're finally being treated properly.

"It's time. It's time for all of those troops. God bless them," says Andy.

But the Honor Flight folks didn't let Andy get away without his own fair share of being honored. When they got back from the trip he and his 90 brothers-in-arms got the hero's welcome many veterans didn't get all those years ago.

Tomorrow night we'll go along with the veterans to the World War Two memorial. It was the last of the major wars to get a memorial in D.C. You'll get to meet Joe, from Tomahawk. He'll tell us why he joined his four brothers in the war, even though he didn't have to.



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 IN OTHER NEWS

ARBOR VITAE - Many people enjoy being on the lake and away from work on Memorial Day.

But some volunteers were working hard Monday on local lakes to prevent the spread of AIS.

Volunteers from Clean Boats, Clean Waters work at different lakes to check boats as they come in and out of the water. They often catch common mistakes, and teach boaters how they can help stop the spread of AIS.

"They usually recommend draining the water up away from the landing that way anything mixed in with the water in the boat doesn't get back in the lake," said volunteer Aaron Tomasoski. "Pretty often people will drain it out. It's been that way for a while, but people are starting to get a hang of it. But we are making progress on that."

Clean Boats, Clean Waters is a state-wide volunteer program that grew out of a program called Milfoil Masters, created by Minocqua middle schoolers in 2003.

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RHINELANDER - The gloomy weather made it difficult to stay outside for the entire weekend, but the rain brought a lot of people to the Pioneer Park Historical Complex.

The complex opened for the season on Saturday.

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WHITE LAKE - People held grand ceremonies all over of the United States today in honor of Memorial Day.

But perhaps some of the most dignified ceremonies happen in small towns right here in the Northwoods.

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MINOCQUA - While the rain this weekend stopped some Memorial Day activities, businesses in the Northwoods saw sales boom. Rain made tourists head indoors to see what different businesses had to offer.

Many Minocqua area businesses said the weekend was very busy because of the rainy and cloudy weather. Business was slower Monday compared to the weekend.

At Dan's Minocqua Fudge this weekend, staff saw thousands come in to shop.

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ANTIGO - A group of tractor enthusiasts showed off their work Monday morning at Antigo's Memorial Day parade.

The Northwoods Tractor Club prides itself on refurbishing old tractors to like new condition.

The not for profit group started with just 20 members and has steadily grown to more than 100.

"Northwoods Tractor Club started in 2011 and it's a group of tractor enthusiasts that kinda thought well maybe we should get together and have an organization, maybe help out the community a little bit. So, we got together with 20 guys back then and now we're well over 100 members," says club President Mike McDougal.

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That's why finding replacement parts can be tricky.

"A lot of times it's the family tractor that had been on their parents or grandparents farm. We reworked it and use it for parades such as today. Our whole general purpose of the organization is to raise money and establish an agriculture tractor museum up just north of Antigo is where we're looking at some land right now," says McDougal.

Many of the tractors date back to the 1930s.

Meeting are held on the last Monday of every month at Quinn's Bar in Neva Corners.

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ST. GERMAIN - Thousands of visitors come to the Northwoods each year in search of treasures old and new.

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What We're Working OnSubmitted: 05/30/2016

- We will take you across the Northwoods to show you Memorial Day celebrations that took place today.

- Plus, while the rain this weekend stopped some Memorial Day activities, businesses in the Northwoods saw sales boom.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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