When Kelli Jaenicke learned a family friend, Korean War veteran Elbert Miller, was not able to go on his scheduled Honor Flight in September because of his dialysis, she began planning another way to honor him.
When Kelli Jaenicke learned a family friend, Korean War veteran Elbert Miller, was not able to go on his scheduled Honor Flight in September because of his dialysis, she began planning another way to honor him. And thanks to the many people who became involved, it was a big success, not only for Miller but also for additional veterans of World War II and Korea.
On Sunday, Nov. 3, Miller was joined by family and friends at the American Legion Hall in Hannibal, where each of the veterans was presented an American flag, and introduced to the people filling the hall.
The crowd included dozens of veterans who arrived on motorcycles. They came from the American Legion Freedom Riders, the Lone Wolf Riders, BOSS Riders and COBB Riders.
Among the Legion Riders was Jim Astorino, who had a special reason to honor Miller, explaining they had worked together at American Cyanamid (now BASF) and “we carpooled together.”
As he was congratulated by American Legion Zone I Commander Dave Bexten, Miller was asked if he had any “stories” to share. Miller responded with an amusing experience in Korea, when he kept hearing a scary noise and finally learned it was made by a donkey.
Miller’s wife, Marjorie, was present, along with his daughter, Deanna Cole of Hull, Ill., and his grandson, Grant Cole.
Honored along with Miller was World War II U.S. Navy veteran Estil Griggsby, who had served at Pearl Harbor. Griggsby surprised several people when he told them he is 101 years old.
Another World War II veteran honored was Ed “Sweetie” Brink, who explained he served in the U.S. Army in the Pacific. Several people said they had known Brink for many years.
Two more Korean War veterans were honored.
John Haden said he had served in Korea three times with the U.S. Navy, and was never injured.
Bernis Elton Smith served in the U.S. Army in Korea.
Two additional veterans, John Youse and William Foster, had been expected but were unable to attend the ceremony on Sunday.
One special surprise for Miller came when his nephew, Ryan, serving in the military in Germany, Skyped him during the ceremony. They had a brief conversation.
Later Miller said, “It makes me feel sad because of the ones that already went ahead of us and are deceased.”
Asked how long he served in Korea, Miller was quick to respond, “15 months and 17 days.”
Before the crowd departed, American Legion Post 55 Commander Ronn Pashia invited everyone to attend the Veterans Day celebration from 11 a.m. to noon on Monday, Nov. 11, at the American Legion Hall in Hannibal.
See photo gallery for more pictures.