Walter Piekosz: Learning to swim


Walter Piekosz was born in Chicago in 1925, one of nine children. At age 17, he decided to join the Navy. He joined even though he didn’t know how to swim.

Roy Stanek: From engineer to photographer


Roy Stanek thought he would be an engineer during the Korean War, but quickly found himself taking enemy fire during 18 missions as an aerial photographer.

Raymond Wirth: Boiler tender and fireman


Raymond Wirth spent 39 months based in Japan on the USS Valley Forge, which supported air operations against advancing Chinese and North Korean forces.

Bernard Ogarek: Hollywood Marine


U.S. Marine Corps  Korean War   Chicago, IL   Flight date: 07/12/17 By Carla Khan, Honor Flight Chicago Veteran Interview Volunteer It was March 1951 and the Korean War was going on.  Having an older brother who served during WWII, along with being convinced that it [...]

Frank Chrzan: Too young to serve


U.S. Marine Corps  World War II   Mt Prospect, IL   Flight date: 06/07/17 By Carla Khan, Honor Flight Chicago Veteran Interview Volunteer When the 15-year-old Frank Chrzan saw an ad, "Pilots and Gunners Wanted for the War in Poland,” he thought that was just a great idea. [...]

Pete Balma: On the front line


U.S. Army   Korean War   Zion, IL   Flight date: 07/12/17 By Jack Walsh, Honor Flight Chicago Veteran Interview Volunteer Pete Balma was very happy when his time in Korea was over.  He was there for 14 months, and they were 14 hard months. It all began [...]

Willard Fruits: ‘Take me’


Willard Fruits wanted to get away from farm life in Missouri, so in 1951, at age 19, he set out on a journey to seek a change.

Milton Diller: A photographer’s eye


As a photo interpretation specialist during the Korean War, Airman Second Class Milton (Milt) Diller never left U.S. soil, but without his service, there’s no telling how many lives might have been lost nearly 6,000 miles away.

Seymour Gottlieb: A knock on the door


U.S. Public Health Service  Korean War   Glencoe, IL   Flight date: 06/07/17 By Jack Walsh, Honor Flight Chicago Veteran Interview Volunteer Seymour Gottlieb decided when he was very young that he had a lot to contribute, and has lived his life in giving all [...]

Frank O’Brien: Nine months of service


Frank O'Brien served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He shares his story of spending nine months overseas, including some of the frightening sights he saw.

Walter Williams: Flying doorless in Korea


U.S. Navy / Korean War (Yorkville, Ill.) Entering the U.S. Navy carried on a family tradition for Walter Williams. His grandfather, Old Salt, had told stories of his time on a sailing ship; other close relatives served in WWII. As a high school junior in Hibbing, Minn., Walter and a buddy joined the Minnesota [...]

Thelma Finney: A nurse’s journey across the U.S.


U.S. Army / World War II (Hobart, IN) The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps — the nation's first integrated uniformed U.S. service corps —fulfilled an urgent need for nurses at home and abroad during World War II. In search of more nurses, the Cadet Nurse Corps traveled to St. Joseph Hospital in Chicago, where Thelma [...]

John Meehan: A career in the Coast Guard


U.S. Coast Guard / WWII (Hobart, IN) John Meehan graduated from high school, enlisted in the Coast Guard at the age of 19 and served from 1942 to 1946. He quickly learned the unusual ways of military thinking as he was sent to commando training. When he was issued his Springfield rifle, he recalls [...]