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16th Never Forgotten Honor Flight: bringing a brother to his memorialSubmitted: 05/26/2014

Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com


WASHINGTON, DC - Empty wheelchairs rolled by northcentral Wisconsin veterans this month in Washington, DC.

They represent those who didn't make it home from war.

Into one of the chairs was placed a picture, representing one specific solider.

"This guy is a younger brother. Youngest one of five boys," said Al Johnson, a Navy veteran who served during the Korean War.

He held the picture of his brother Jack in his hands.

Johnson went on this month's Never Forgotten Honor Flight for something more than just seeing the memorial in his honor.

He went to remember and represent Jack.

"He died at about the age of 20, and it was an accidental death," Al said.

Jack was in the Army, serving in Korea, when a truck he was driving went over a cliff.

Escorting Jack's body back to Wisconsin was important for Al - so important that he was temporarily transferred from the Navy to the Army to do it more than six decades ago.

"Mike has never seen Jack, of course. He died before he was born," Al said.

Mike is Al's son, and Jack's nephew.

Mike escorted his father, in a way, through the Korean War Memorial that means so much.

"This was really him. He needed to do this. That part of his experience, I think, compelled him to really make a trip here with his brother Jack," Mike said.

Like all veterans on the flight, Al was warmly welcomed by grateful Americans in Washington and Wisconsin.

But this trip wasn't so much about Al.

"What Jack did with my father was really bring him here," Mike said.

And how would Jack feel about what his brother did for him on the Honor Flight?

"Oh, boy, that's pretty tough," Al said, pausing for a long time to think, then motioning at the statues at the Korean War Memorial. "We would feel like brothers. Like these guys are. They're all brothers."

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