May 28, 2009

Three Brothers Treated to Trip to WWII Memorial in Washington DC

Three brothers, local World War II veterans, recently were treated to a trip to Washington DC to visit the WWII Memorial. Pictured (L to R) are Robert Bruner, Max Bruner, former U.S. Senator Bob Dole and Charles Bruner.

By Gene Bruner

“Everything went so smoothly for us.”

That’s what brothers Charles Bruner and Robert Bruner, of Downing, and Max Bruner of Memphis, had to say about their recent trip to Washington, DC.

“We were treated wonderfully by the organizers of the flight and we were met everywhere by people who showed us great respect and honor as WWII veterans.”

An article in VFW Magazine outlined a national effort to get the dwindling number of WWII veterans to Washington, DC, to see the recently built WWII Memorial on The Mall. And a query this past December to the internet URL provided soon got applications forwarded; and it wasn’t long before the men were anticipating the trip this month.

A pre-flight Q&A junket in April to the VFW post in Columbia showed the brothers that this trip was very real and very well planned. They would be provided for with no cost to them whatsoever. They even had their own single guardian looking after them, a helpful fellow who didn’t let them get out of his sight – their mother hen.

Persons from all over the country have donated money to make this possible; and a very recently established group in Central Missouri provided the chance away from the larger metropolitan areas of our state for veterans to come to Columbia and be flown to the Capitol.

Charles, Robert, and Max, left Monday afternoon, May 18th, and drove to their motel for a good night’s sleep… reveille would sound at 2:00 a.m., Tuesday morning, May 19th. They boarded a bus to St. Louis Lambert airport for the Southwest Airlines flight to Baltimore, Maryland.

Breakfast and refreshments were provided on the bus; and security without a hitch saw them aboard their plane and on time.

In Baltimore they boarded a bus to travel into Washington, DC, and there spent the day sightseeing, passing The White House, the Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln monuments, and walking about at the WWII Memorial. They even stood for a photo with retired Senator Robert Dole of Kansas, who wondered just how he was going to get in the middle of three brothers.

A moving highlight of the trip was a visit to Arlington National Cemetery where the men saw the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and over six hundred acres of manicured hills and flag-bedecked graves.

Very glad they didn’t have to drive themselves in the heavy traffic, glad for their own lives in rural Missouri, they got back to the airport and their return flight home. Food provided all the time.

How did 93-, 86-, and 82-year-old men fare on this whirlwind junket? This son and his cousins know full well: Their dads are in great shape, quite able to handle this great opportunity and its great experience.

On the flight back to St. Louis a mail call delivered to the veterans letters of thanks from their children, plus notes from school kids expressing love and a collective gratitude for their service to our nation. This and a giant flag-bearing motorcycle escort back at the motel in Columbia later at night was not a little overwhelming for everyone. Emotions were high.

A good night’s sleep after nearly 48 hours of activity and the Bruner Brothers were back safely in Northeast Missouri, Wednesday morning, May 20th.

And they haven’t stopped talking about it all.

If you see Charles, Robert, or Max Bruner don’t hesitate to inquire about their trip; and if you would like to make this opportunity available for your WWII veteran, don’t hesitate yourself to check with Central Missouri Honor Flight in Columbia.

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