WWII veteran knows about freedom

anda English Burnett

Wayne Hull, Versailles, formerly of Holton, knows the meaning of celebrating the Fourth of July. He knows the cost of freedom having served in World War II on the islands of Guam and Siapan.

“Those B-29’s would fly out of there,” Hull recalled, as he told about his job as a cryptographer in the war. He would decipher secret messages and stay in contact with the radio operators on the big aircrafts. He served in the Army Air Corp from 1943-46. He remembered how the bombs were dropped on Japan and the feeling when the war finally was over.

That was years ago when he was a teenage boy, just graduated from high school. He actually graduated in the spring of 1943 and was drafted that fall in September.

Recently, Wayne and his daughter, Phyllis, went on a WWII Honor Flight Tri-State trip to Washington, DC, which they describe as “the trip of a lifetime.”

“I thought it was great,” Wayne told The Versailles Republican. He was impressed with the organization of the group and the honor that was bestowed on the veterans as they traveled.
Phyllis told how a 10-year-old boy came up to her father and shook his hand. “It really means something,” the third grade teacher of nearly 30 years noted. She has been at South Ripley Elementary for the duration of her career.

She was impressed with the shirts the group was given. On the back it read, “If you can read this, thank a teacher,” then it said, “If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.” “Just something about that really appealed to me,” Phyllis said.

Wayne said his trip to Washington brought back many memories from the war. He had never seen all the memorials and was so impressed with them. The Iwo Jima, Lincoln and Air Force monuments were among his favorites as well as the World War II memorial that has a theme of water. The beautiful fountains depict the waters the military had to cross to fight the war on foreign soil.

The group left the Greater Cincinnati Airport on May 10 on a charter flight for Washington, DC where they arrived to a water cannon salute. This is where the fire trucks are in position to spray a big stream of water as the plane lands. This is usually reserved for dignitaries. There was a band and people waving flags along with USO dancers at one point on the trip. “The veterans really were the focus,” noted Phyllis.

The plane full of veterans and their guides were transferred to a bus, which had a police escort throughout their sightseeing trip in Washington. “We never stopped at a red light,” Wayne noted.
It was an impressive sight as the veterans took their rightful place and were honored for their service of helping to free the world from tyranny during those tedious years of the ‘40’s. Millions of lives were lost during that time and most of the veterans just considered coming home celebration enough.

“We just went back to work and that was it,” noted Wayne. He doesn’t think he did anything great, but history tells another story. “The Honor Flight is appropriately named,” noted his daughter, Phyllis, who said the veterans were honored every second of the trip.

Wayne had worked with a man whose son was killed in Vietnam. While in Washington, DC, he was able to get a rubbing from the “wall” where thousands of names are imprinted from that war. He said it was a humbling experience and he was also so impressed with the Arlington Cemetery, which seems to go on forever.

Wayne still has a friend he stays in contact with from the war. “He was a radio operator,” he noted. He said he remembers when the bomb was dropped that ended the war after it was brought in on the USS Indianapolis, which was later torpedoed and lost.

The memories of the war were vivid, but the honor to the veterans canceled out the negative cloud of so long ago and let the veterans know every sacrifice they made was greatly appreciated.
Wayne will celebrate the Fourth of July with family and friends and he will be the one in the crowd who knows the true meaning of the holiday that sizzles with sparklers and fireworks.
If you know of a World War II veteran who would like to make the trip to Washington, DC, you can contact the Honor Flight Tri-State group: www.honorflighttristate.org.


TOP LEFT PHOTO: Phyllis Hull and her father, Wayne Hull of Versailles, as they waited to board the charter flight to Washington, DC, with Honor Flight Tri-State in May.

TOP PHOTO RIGHT: Wayne Hull when he entered World War II in 1943.

Pictured at left, Wayne Hull posed in front of the Guam section of the WWII memorial. He served in Guam and Siapan.