Chris Knochel Travels to Washington DC with Father on Honor Flight

At the Monday noon luncheon meeting of the Kentland Rotary Club, Rotarian Chris Knochel (photo) talked about his experience as a guardian escorting his father, Dale, on an October 15th Honor Flight for WWII and Korean War veterans to Washington D.C.  After the death of his wife, Joan, the 84 year-old Dale was at first reluctant to commit to going and had to be persuaded.  Eventually, he agreed to go, with his son, Chris, accompanying him as his guardian and his son, Chuck, serving as a guardian for another veteran making the journey. 

 Upon their arrival at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the veterans were each given a wheelchair to ride and they would be propelled at each site visited by their guardians.  As the veterans were rolled through the terminal to the red, white and blue buses that would ferry them to D.C., both Chris and his father were especially impressed by the number of people, adults and children, who greeted them.  The outpouring of thanks and appreciation continued throughout the day at every site the group visited and it continued until the contingent arrived home in Indiana to a rousing welcome from relatives and others at the Purdue Airport.  Chris commented about how well everything had been organized, "They had everything down to a science."

 Dale Knochel enlisted in the Army in 1946 at the age of 18.  He wanted to do his part for the country and he also knew that he would have to serve his time sooner or later.  He was sent to Korea.  Although World War Two was officially over, it was still hazardous duty.  Since the Japanese had taken and occupied Korea, its status for the future had to be resolved by the victorious Allies.  At the Potsdam Conference in July- August 1945 it was decided to divide Korea into a communist North- and a western - oriented South Korea.  Since the North and South Koreans were unable to reconcile their differences peacefully, those sent there to help with the restructuring suffered casualties---as many as 7 to 8 a day.  Dale served in Korea until 1948, when he was discharged.  The Korean War began in June 1950 and lasted until July 1953. 

 Chris, who returned home exhausted, commented that his father had never talked much about his military experience at home. His father had also never encouraged his sons to consider the military as a career option. Chris did mention that after the Honor Flight journey, he had a much greater appreciation for his father and the other veterans and their service to our country. "It was wonderful to have been part of it."

 Knochel was accompanied at the meeting by Randy Pruden, local news and businessman, who had been instrumental in recruiting local veterans and raising funds for their flight.  Pruden became involved with Honor flight after experiencing how excited and appreciative World War II veteran of the Normandy Invasion, Gordon Gadson was after a Honor Flight he had taken from Chicago in August of 2010.  Pruden commented, "How could one not want to be involved?"

 Pruden mentioned that he is again recruiting veterans for the next Honor Flight out of West Lafayette.  He is hoping to recruit 10 to 12 veterans from the Kentland area.  He is also helping to organize a May 18th fund raising event that would include a softball tournament, a cornhole tournament and possibly a shotgun start  best-ball golfing event. He's hoping for 5-6 vendors who will donate some of their profits to help pay the expenses of the next group of Honor Flight honorees.  Those who are interested in any aspect of the next Honor Flight honoring WWII and Korean War Vets should contact Randy Pruden at 219-208-9231.  

 Brandt Stum

Kentland Rotary Club