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Northwoods veteran gets surprise of a lifetime while on Never Forgotten Honor FlightSubmitted: 09/20/2016
Story By Mary O'Connell


WASHINGTON, D.C. - Every Honor Flight features plenty of surprises for veterans. But you'd be hard pressed to find a better surprise than the one 87-year-old Walter Andrus got on the 25th Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

Walt traveled from Wausau to Washington, D.C. with his son, John, last Monday. 

"It's just an honor and a privilege to be able to share this with my dad. It's beyond words," John said.

Walt's time in the service looked a little different than that of his fellow soldiers. Walt served as a first Lieutenant Dental Officer in Korea during the Korean War. 

"I had just graduated from Marquette Dental School, and at that time, the doctor's draft was going on," Walt said. "And rather than wait for Uncle Sam to come and get me, I joined the Army."

Walt calls his time in Korea "a wonderful experience," but he doesn't consider himself a hero. 

Walt's experience in Korea was different from what family friend Song Gotiangco went through.

"I'm from Korea, and my grandfather and his whole family came from North Korea to South seeking freedom," said Gotiangco.

Eventually, Gotiangco and her family emigrated to San Antonio, Texas, where she herself served in the U.S. Army. 

Gotiangco doubts her grandparents would have survived life in North Korea, meaning that she wouldn't exist without the help of people like Walt. 

Gotiangco has known the Andrus family for about 10 years, and she calls Walt a second dad, but she hadn't seen him in a few years. 

So with the help of his son, Walt got the surprise of a lifetime when Gotiangco showed up in DC to give her second dad a long-awaited hug.

"She's just a wonderful girl, so loving and kind. I feel like she's a daughter," Walt said.

Many soldiers, just like Walt, felt they weren't heroes after coming back from war. But in the eyes of one woman, Walt will always be a hero. 

"If it weren't for heroes like Walt, and heroes that have given up so much for my country, I wouldn't be here today," said Gotiangco.


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