Elba men excited to participate in Wiregrass Honor Flight

Brian Blair
Staff Writer

Thursday, Apr 22,2010

Three Elba men will receive a big ‘thank you’ for their service in the United States military when they fly to Washington, D.C. for the day as part of the Honor Flight program.
John Glen Lee, H. H. (Junior) Culver and Wildon Bryan, as well as one traveling partner for each veteran, will leave this Saturday, April 24, at 7 a.m. from Dothan Regional Airport en route to Washington, D.C.
John Glenn Lee, who was drafted in August 1942 and served in the Air Force as an MP (Military Police) until going to Europe in May 1945 with the 35th division, said he is looking forward to the trip.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all of it,” said Lee. “I know it’s going to be a rushed trip but it will be interesting.”
Lee also had a few stories to tell about his service.
“I graduated from high school in May 1942 and was drafted in August,” he said. “I then went to St. Petersburg, Florida for basic training and was paid $21 per month.”
Lee continued by saying that when he arrived in Europe, the war was already over, but they still protected the displaced citizens from the Germans.
“Another thing I remember is crossing the English Channel,” said Lee. “It was littered with ‘bird nests’ or just a lot of sunken ships.”
Lee said his son, Joe, will be accompanying him on the trip.
H.H. Culver Jr. said he served beginning in 1946.
“I enlisted February 1, 1946,” Culver stated. “The war was over, but the emergency had not been declared over.”
Culver continued by saying he served for a total of 21 months with most of that time being overseas.
“I served in the Pacific Theatre, eventually making it to Japan,” Culver said.
When asked about the upcoming Honor Flight, Culver said he appreciates the opportunity.
“I just really appreciate the opportunity offered by the people of the Wiregrass to be able to go,” he said. “It’s an honor, and I would like to see more and more of the flights to give veterans the opportunity to go see the monument.”
Culver said he is looking forward to it and is looking forward to seeing the WWII monument.
Mr. Culver’s daughter, Hilda Allen, will be on the Honor Flight with him.
Wildon Bryan, who served beginning in December 1944 with the Army in the artillery division, said he is looking forward to it as well.
“Everyone says it is a great trip and I’m looking forward to it,” Bryan said. “It will be great to get to go and see the monuments and sights.”
When asked about his time in the service, he said he served in the Philippines with the 81st Division.
“I went to basic training at Ft. Sill and was in Maryland for further training and getting ready to head to Germany when that front ended,” Bryan said. “We then went to California and from there to the Philippines.”
Bryan said it was there when he joined the 81st Division.
“About a month after we got there, they dropped the first atomic bomb and we thought the war was over,” Bryan said. “However, it wasn’t until after we got the telegram stating they had dropped a second atomic bomb that we heard they had surrendered.”
Bryan said it was the happiest day of his life because he knew he was going to occupy Japan.
“I stayed one year in Japan before returning home,” Bryan added. “And, I got out of the service October 21, 1946.”
In an interesting twist, Bryan’s son, Hubert Ray, whom he didn’t get to ‘meet’ until he was 15-months-old, will be accompanying him on the Honor Flight.
All three men expressed their thanks for the honor of being able to go on the trip and thanked the citizens of the Wiregrass for their support.
They will return home Saturday evening.

Photo: World War II Veterans H.H. (Junior) Culver, John Glen Lee and Wildon Bryan will travel this Saturday, April 24, to Washington, D.C. as members of a Wiregrass Honor Flight leaving out of Dothan.