BATTLE CREEK, MICH. - A Battle Creek man will take a flight later this month, 75 years into history.
Robert G. Winer, 97, is one of about 75 veterans who will fly from Kalamazoo to Washington, D.C., on April 22 as part of the Talons Out Honor Flight, to thank veterans who fought in the wars of the United States.
Talons Out serves 17 counties in southern Michigan and is one of 135 hubs in 40 states flying veterans to Washington, D.C., for a tour of the World War II memorial and several others, said Dan Moyle, vice president of the Portage-based nonprofit. The group has flown 11 Honor Flights since 2013 and is planning two this year.
"These men and women who gave their service without any expectations are finally being thanked," he said. "Few of them have been thanked and for us to take them to the memorial really gives them some closure and shows that we really do appreciate them and appreciate our freedom and those who fought for us."
Robert Winer was working as a pressman at the Sturgis Daily Journal in Sturgis when he was drafted and joined the army on July 7, 1942. A clipping from the paper said he was stationed in England.
A Sturgis Journal clipping from 1942 announcing that Robert Winer was serving in England. (Photo: Trace Christenson/The Enquirer)
"I went to basic in Riverside, California, and then to New Jersey and then to England for nine months, waiting for D-Day," Winer said from his home on the west side of Battle Creek.
Winer was assigned to the First Army, Third Armour Division, as a range finder in a tank. Ten days after D-Day his unit began marching through France and Belgium, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and into Germany until reaching Berlin.
After the war he returned to the United States and resumed his career which included work as a pressman at the Journal and then in 1955 moving to the Battle Creek Enquirer until he retired in 1982.
He and his wife, Juanita, have been married 76 years.
His nephew, Jim Parker, and Parker's wife, Sharon, of Howe, Ind., proposed the Honor Flight and Winer agreed. He and Parker, who will serve as his guardian, leave the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek International Airport about 7 a.m. on the Saturday morning and return about 8:30 p.m.
Moyle said the veterans will tour the monuments for World War II, Korea and Vietnam and visit Arlington National Cemetery and tour other parts of the city.
Since the first flight in 2013 the bulk of veterans have come from Kalamazoo, St. Joseph and Calhoun counties, he said.
Flights are about $90,000 each and Moyle said the all-volunteer group raises funds and organizes the flights. All expenses are paid for the veterans. Moyle said at the end of the day the veterans will be bused from the airport to Kalamazoo Christian Middle School, 3800 12th St., Kalamazoo, for a public reception to thank the veterans and welcome them home.
Information about Talons Out Honor Flights is available at www talonsouthonorflight.org and on Facebook.
With a couple weeks to go, Winer is looking forward to the trip.
"I am kind of excited about it," he said. "It is just going to be a hectic day. I am going to be pooped, that is for sure."
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Contact Trace Christenson at 269-966-0685 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @TSChristenson
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