Seniors take honor flight to World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Ernie Clark, resident of the Catholic Care Center, and Ira Kissling, a resident of Via Christi Village on Ridge, were among the 100+ veterans selected for the Oct. 5 Central Prairie Honor Flight, a program that flies World War II veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial.
In addition to the World War II Memorial, the vets witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visited Fort McHenry as well as other sites in Washington.
Ernie was a pilot during the war and was especially excited to be back in the air for this momentous trip. Not only did he enjoy seeing the memorial and meeting all of his fellow veterans, he was honored as the oldest veteran on the trip.
When Ernie and his son John got off the plane to a warm homecoming at the Wichita Airport, he was presented with an American flag for being the oldest veteran on the flight. He spontaneously led the crowd of hundreds in the Pledge of Allegiance, ending with a joyous, "Hallelujah."
Ernie had been working at Beechcraft when the war started. He was called up to the Army Air Corps, where he flew some of the same planes he had been building back home in Wichita. He went into training in Louisiana and then was transfered to a base in Texas. While he was there preparing for his tour of duty overseas, the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and he was discharged. After the war, he went on to become a minister at First Baptist Church in Valley Center.
Ernie married Jean Whatley and they had three children, Linda, John and Timothy.
Since moving to Catholic Care Center, Ernie enjoys Bible study, having family and friends visit and mentoring people from the Union Rescue Mission. He also enjoys calligraphy and simulated flight landings.
Ira served in the Navy for 22 months during WW II. He was a sonar technician on the Destroyer USS Hickox stationed out of San Francisco. The Hickox was an anti-submarine battle ship in the Pacific. Ira graduated from the Sonar Operation course on March 10, 1945. He then graduated from the Sonar Maintenance course on June 2 of that year.
After the war, Ira attended Washburn University and received his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration in June of 1950. He met his wife Mary at church while he was attending college. They married and had two sons and a daughter. Ira worked as a loan officer for the Farm Credit for 20 years. He and Mary lived in Bartlesville, Winfield and Wichita. He also worked as an office manager for two different car dealerships in Wichita. He became a CPA, then worked as a bank examiner in St Paul, Minn. for four years. While in St Paul his three children attended college and graduated from the university there.