News: Neillsville - 5 Go
On Honor Flight (Sep. - 2019)
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Johnson, Rossow, Prust, Black, Mewhorter
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 9/25/2019
Four Neillsville Brothers and Friend go on Honor Flight (14 September - 2019)
Five veterans who grew up in Greenwood recently went on a Freedom Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. They and their guardians posed for a photo in front of the U.S. Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) War Memorial. Shown (front l-r) are Danny Rossow (Greenwood) with daughter Cindy Black (Boyd), (standing) Ann Mewhorter (Eau Claire) with Dale Johnson (Eau Claire), Ray Johnson (Tomah) with son Tim Johnson (Litchfield, MN), Sam Johnson (Crandon) with son Brian Johnson (Twin Lakes) and Harry Johnson (Greenwood) with son Scott Johnson (Greenwood). (Submitted photo)
By Valorie Brecht
Dale, Sam, Ray and Harry Johnson and Danny Rossow grew up together and have stayed in close contact all throughout life. Therefore, it seemed only fitting that they should be honored for their service to their country together as well.
On Sept. 14, the five of them, all veterans, went on a Freedom Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. to view the memorials erected in their honor.
“It was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever done,” said Dale.
The flight was a great memory to add to the list of memories the five men have shared throughout the years.
The Johnson brothers were born to Leonard and Lois Johnson. Danny Rossow was born to Edward and Lillian Rossow. All five men were born and raised in the Greenwood area. They attended school, played sports and participated in musical activities together.
After high school, three of the brothers ended up moving to different parts of the state. But they stayed connected through their common passion – hunting. They all congregate at a property that Danny owns 100 miles north of Greenwood in Draper. In 1959, his dad bought an old farmhouse there and the boys fixed it up. Ever since then, the Johnsons and Danny and his family have deer hunted together there.
“Well we probably would have been all hunting together anyway, but that gave us a place to stay,” said Danny.
The farmhouse has become a gathering place for kids and grandkids. The families go up there regularly throughout the year to hunt, fish, make maple syrup and just spend time together.
“We’ve bonded together all these years,” said Dale.
The brothers and Danny have also been united in service to their country, although they served in different times and locations. All four brothers served in the Army and Danny served in the Air Force.
The brothers ages span six years. Dale is the oldest sibling after sister Vera (Johnson) Prust of Plymouth. Dale served from 1956-1962. He spent two years stationed in southern Germany. His first year in Germany, he drove a truck hauling supplies. He second year he was named supply sergeant. After that, he spent four years stateside in the Reserves. He now lives in Eau Claire.
Sam is the next oldest Johnson brother. He served from 1957-1959. He spent one year in South Korea with the signal corps as a cryptographic repairman. In 1961, he was called back to service for almost a year during the Berlin Crisis. He served in a communications construction unit in Fort Riley, KS. Sam lives in Crandon.
Harry the next oldest, served from 1963-1965.l He spent 16 months in South Korea, about two miles from the demilitarized zone. He worked in the artillery in the fire direction center. He calculated launch specifications when they would practice firing cannons. Harry lives near Greenwood.
The youngest brother, Ray, was on active duty from 1964-1966 and in the Reserves after that. He was stationed in Fort Leis, WA, and then in Vietnam. He repaired radios as a communications specialist in the military police battalion. Ray is the youngest brother and resides in Tomah.
Danny joined the Air Force in 1964 and was in the service until 1968. He was an aircraft mechanic. He was stationed at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan. He then worked at the Niagara Falls International Airport until he was transferred to Vietnam. In Vietnam, he worked in transit alert. He drove the “follow me” truck and led the planes that land where they were supposed to go. Danny lives near Greenwood.
The brothers and Danny heard about the Honor Flight and through other veterans that had already gone on the trip. One time, there were all together at a family wedding and the subject came up in conversation.
“Someone said, ‘Why don’t we all go together?’” said Ray. They decided to do it.
Ray collected all the applications an submitted them all at the same time. About three years later, their turn came to go on the flight.
On Sept. 14, the brothers and Danny joined 87 other veterans on the Freedom Honor Flight. To their knowledge, it is the first time that four brothers have gone on the flight together. They traveled from La Crosse to Reagan National Airport in Arlington, VA.
“The number of people [waiting at the VA airport] amazed me,” said Sam. “Around 150 to 200 people were there shaking our hands and thanking us for our service.”
The veterans spent the day touring memorials, including the Vietnam Wall. Harry mentioned that he found his cousin Gary Brooks’ name on the Vietnam Wall.
The veterans also visited the World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, marine Cops (Iwo Jima), Air Force and Pentagon (9/11) memorials. At the World War II, there was another group of about 50 people waiting to shake the veterans’ hands. The veterans also saw the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.
The veterans had a police escort everywhere they went and were served meals and snacks throughout the day. On one of the plane rides, there was “mail call” where the veterans received letters from family members and others thanking them for their service.
One of the most meaningful parts of day came at the very end. The veterans were greeted by an airport full of people waiting to say, “welcome home.”
“The reception at the end was phenomenal,” said harry.
Danny agreed and said he was moved almost to tears.
“All I could think of was, ‘This is the reception I didn’t get when I came home from Vietnam,’” he said. “It makes you proud you did what you were called to do.”
The brothers and their friend will not soon forget the Honor Flight and are happy they got the opportunity to do it together.
“It gave me a new dimension on how precious our freedom really is,” said Sam. “Each military person has a small increment in securing and preserving our freedom.”
The Johnson brothers and Danny said that the whole experience was well organized.
“It was worry-free for the veterans,” said Ray. “Everyone was friendly and accommodating.”
“Everything was very nice. I have nothing negative to say about the experience,” said Dale. “I would recommend to any vet that wanted to go, get your name on the list.”
For more information on the Freedom Honor Flight, visit www.freedomhonorflight.org.
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