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Logsdon, local veteran, gets to visit WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.

By Geoff Hamill

Clyde Logsdon caught a plane to Washington D.C., this morning. The plane has landed by now, but Clyde is probably still a few feet off the ground, likely somewhere around Cloud 9.

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Logsdon, 87, is a Washington County native and a veteran of World War II. He and his daughter, Kathy Mattingly, left Louisville this morning as part of a trip to the nation’s capital aboard a flight operated by a veteran’s support group called Honor Flight.

“I served in the Army for three years and 14 days,” Logsdon recalls. “I’m excited about it, and I’d just like to see the monuments. I’ve never been to Washington, D.C., but I’m looking forward to going.”

While there, Logsdon and other soldiers will get a chance to see the World War II memorial, which was officially dedicated on May 29, 2004. He served in the 95th Infantry Division, and was one of 51 men from Springfield who entered military service on Nov. 20, 1942, according to archives of The Springfield Sun.

Anyone who serves their country should be seen as a hero, but Logsdon earned special recognition as a recipient of the Bronze Star, an award he earned for heroic actions when he and a fellow soldier helped rescue wounded soldiers they found in a field along the Saar River in northeastern France, just across the border from Germany.

“We heard a man hollering, ‘Please help, please help!’ We stayed with him and then got him back to an aid station. We layed on that bank all night until the next day, and it was cold,” Logsdon recalled. “We were very fortunate.”

Fortunate, indeed. In addition to rescuing wounded men, Logsdon himself was wounded on a couple of occasions, but the injuries were never serious. He said men were commonly hit, but if the injury was not serious, they were not hospitalized, and thus did not receive a Purple Heart for their wounds.

“We went through a whole lot, and we were really fortunate. I got hit a couple of times and went to the doctor, but they said I’d be able to make it back,” he said. “Unless you were hurt really bad, they didn’t put you in the hospital. The hospitals were all full up then. To get a Purple Heart, you had to be in the hospital for a certain length of time, and I didn’t do it. I didn’t want to go to the hospital anyhow, I just wanted to stay with my outfit.”

Following his military service, Logsdon returned home to Springfield, where he and his wife, the late Mary Isabel Thomas Logsdon, raised their family. The couple had three children; David Logsdon of Nashville, Betty Wright of Louisville and Mattingly, who resides in Lebanon. He initially took a job at Haydon Mill & Grain in Springfield, then later moved to a new wastewater treatment plant when it was opened by his boss, Joe Haydon.

“I worked at the water treatment plant for 20-some years, then I retired,” he said.

Retirment hasn’t slowed him down much. Logsdon still drives a bit in town, and he gets outside, mowing his own yard, as well as some other grass near his home. When he’s not doing that, he enjoys lunch at the senior citizens’ center in Springfield.

About Honor Flight

Logsdon’s trip to Washington was the result of his daughter seeing an article in the USA Today about the Honor Flight program, which is solely for WWII veterans.

“I saw it back in the spring, and I went to the Web site and downloaded the information and sent in Dad’s information,” Mattingly said. “I hoped to get an answer back within a year, but about mid-August I got a call that said he could go. I’ll be going with him as a guardian.”

The Honor Flight program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force Captain, to honor veterans he has taken care of for the past 27 years. After retiring from the Air Force in 1998, he was hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to work in a small clinic in Springfield, Ohio. Morse is also a private pilot and member of one of the nation’s largest aero clubs located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. In December of 2004, he asked one of his WWII veteran patients if he could personally fly him to Washington D.C., free of charge, to visit the WWII memorial. The veteran broke down and cried, saying at his age he would probably never get to see the memorial, and he accepted the offer. A second WWII Veteran was asked the same question a week later. He too cried and enthusiastically accepted a trip to Washington.

Realizing that the desire was so great, Morse started to ask for help from other pilots to make these hopes and dreams a reality. In January of 2005, he addressed about 150 members of the aero club during a safety meeting, outlining a volunteer program to fly veterans to their memorial. There were two major stipulations to his request. The first was that the veterans pay nothing. The entire aircraft rental ($600 to $1200 for the day) would have to be paid solely by the pilots. The second was that the pilots personally escort the veterans around Washington for the entire day. After he spoke, 11 pilots who had never met his patients volunteered to make their dreams a reality.

“We are obviously very, very proud,” said Margaret Morse, Earl’s mother and office manager for Honor Flight in the main office in Ohio. “It’s a program that started out of necessity, then it took on a life of its own. It is so desperately needed, and America needs to do this now for our veterans. It’s an honor to be able to do what we can do. It comes from the heart for all of our volunteers, and it takes many man hours to do this, but we are certainly blessed.”

The Bluegrass Regional Honor Flight program is operated by Brian Duffy of Louisville. Duffy is a pilot for United Parcel Service, but volunteers his time to assist with coordinating the program throughout the state.

“I tell people that these veterans are so humble, so stoic, and they come up to me thanking me for putting this together, but it’s just the opposite,” Duffy said. “We owe them thanks for how much they did for us. To take them on these trips is so personally rewarding.”

Margaret Morse said the program is paid for by public and private donations. Nearly 15,000 veterans have had the opportunity to fly to Washington, but another 7,000 continue to be on waiting lists. She said the length of the waiting lists depends on the number of veterans in the area in which they live. Some areas have longer waits, while others, like Logsdon, may wait only a short time.

Duffy said the Kentucky program flies out of Louisville via Southwest Airlines. He said Southwest is chosen due to its inexpensive price, as well as a non-stop flight from Louisville to Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

“Southwest is great, and they are so friendly and respectful to these veterans,” he said.

In addition to donations, Duffy stressed that the Kentucky Veterans’ Trust Fund helps with the costs related to the trips. He said the sale of veteran license plates in Kentucky sends $5 per plate to the KVTF, and to date, that has generated $25,000 that has been given to Honor Flight, and another $25,000 grant has been approved.

“In addition to the Kentucky Veterans’ Trust Fund, we have raised $50,000 privately, with $10,000 coming from one family trust fund,” Duffy said. He added that all donations, large and small, are important and welcome.

For more on the Bluegrass Honor Flight, visit www.honorflightbluegrass.com on the Internet.