Three lifelong friends make the trip together
MILWAUKEE - Gerry Hinderholtz, Ejner Lie and Maynard Poulsen Have been friends longer than most of us have been alive.
The three have known each other for 75 years. "We lived in the same neighborhood. We went to Sunday School together. Elementary, Junior High High School."
The three talk in tandem. They don't talk over each other, but seem to be able to flawlessly continue the other's thought.
"We fight once in a while, not too much though."
And all three have a lot in common. "We're all widowed and we all have three children, one boy and two girls."
And the three guys from Racine County still keep in regular touch. "Every Wednesday we have coffee together."
This weekend, all three Navy vets made the Honor Flight together. The Navy, probably like much of the similarity in their life, was a coincidence. "We volunteered at different times, I didn't know they were going into the navy."
Gerry points out, "It was that or get drafted into the Army."
Gerry brought a list of names with him, men killed when his ship was attacked in the Pacific.
"We got sunk by kamikaze planes."
A look down the list and there was a common thread, "Fireman, fireman. Most of them died in the fire rooms. The high pressure steam cooked them all instantly I hope," Gerry said.
"I never went to a reunion, because it was always far away and I couldn't afford it. One time it was at Great Lakes and I was going to go down with my buddies there and that's when my wife became ill and died. I couldn't make it."
This weekend, Gerry finally made it to his memorial. By the time I saw him at the end of the night, he couldn't talk. He'd lost his voice. But his infectious smile was as big as ever.