|Oltjenbruns joins other vets in Honor Flight|
|Written by Jes-c Brandt|
“There is a special comradeship among men who have been shot at.”
Get a business card from Holyoke’s Elton Oltjenbruns and it professes this quotation by an unknown person, lending insight into the character of this World War II veteran.
April 28-29 Oltjenbruns was one of 134 WWII veterans who participated in the Honor Flight Northern Colorado trip to Washington D.C. There he was able to visit the WWII Memorial with other men who served.
Honor Flight Northern Colorado is part of a large network dedicated to sending WWII veterans to Washington to visit the memorials erected in their honor. This is the organization’s second trip, and to date, they have sent over 300 veterans to Washington.
For this trip, a grand send off was arranged to get the veterans on their way from Loveland to Denver, and finally to Baltimore, Md. Oltjenbruns shared it was truly an honor to have the police and firefighters saluting them and escorting them to their destination. Commanders of the American Legion, mayors from 12 area cities, local military personnel and many others were present to offer their thanks and appreciation as well.
Oltjenbruns noted the pipe band playing at the airport was an especially exciting aspect of the send off. He recalled the first time he heard a pipe band at the end of the war and ever since then he has loved the sound of those bagpipes.
Once in Washington, the men traveled by bus to visit the World War II Memorial. The group all wore matching caps and shirts, letting everyone know they are WWII veterans. Being there, said Oltjenbruns, brought back many memories. His time as a medic in the army, was of course, memorable, but he also noted other trips he has made to the capital.
In 1944, before being shipped overseas from Fort Dix, N.J., Oltjenbruns wished to see the country’s capital. His request was granted, and he spent a day in Washington for the first time. Since then, he has made the trip multiple times, and he says it has certainly changed over the years.
One of the other trips Oltjenbruns made was in 2004 for the dedication of the WWII Memorial. That trip in particular was a great experience because it coincided with the reunion of the 102nd infantry division, and his family was able to be together for the dedication. Surrounded by the people he cares about, Oltjenbruns finally had the satisfaction of seeing a memorial dedicated to the time he and countless others spent serving their country.
On the Honor Flight trip, the veterans were busy chatting with one another about their time in the military and the exciting trip they were all taking together. Oltjenbruns was fortunate to know one of the other veterans already. The two met in 1962, and the trip to Washington offered them a chance to reunite.
It was a long two days, says Oltjenbruns, but it was a very rewarding experience. It is his opinion that Washington D.C. is a place every American should go at least once, and he has been lucky to make that trip more than once.
As a day important to all veterans approaches, Oltjenbruns shared he will be participating in the memorial day services at the Holyoke Cemetery Monday, May 25.
On that day, let us remember Winston Churchill’s quotation the veterans wore proudly on their shirts in Washington: “Never... was so much owed by so many to so few.”