LORAIN — In World War II, Budd and Lois Kleefeld served their country separately in uniform.
Budd was an infantryman with the 87th Division who fought through Europe before Germans took him as a prisoner of war during the Battle of the Bulge.
He survived six months of captivity — albeit 60 pounds lighter — and can’t erase images of death from his mind.
“Too many young people got killed before their time — it was sickening,” he said.
Lois was in WAVES — Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services — and spent most of the war doing paperwork stateside.
Their experiences helped them forge a bond that lasts to this day.
Together on Tuesday, Budd and Lois watched “Honor Flight” at the Lorain Palace Theater, a documentary about the trips for elderly veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit the World War II Memorial.
“It was wonderful — just like it was,” said Budd, who took his own trip to Washington, D.C., with Lois two years ago with Honor Flight Cleveland.
Just like in the film, he and Lois were greeted by former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who has made it his mission to meet as many people taking the Honor Flight as possible.
Lois — who became secretary to then-Cleveland Indians owner William “Bill” Veeck Jr. after the war — said she admires the young women in 2013 who want to train for combat duty.
“It’s their right,” she said.
The husband and wife were among hundreds who attended morning and evening showings of the film, which was screened free of charge through a sponsorship from Stein Hospice in Sandusky and support from the Lorain Palace Theater, French Creek Family YMCA and Lorain County Community College.
Among those who were inspired was Donna Dorn, who watched the film with her father, Dennis Dorn, who served on the destroyer the USS Haynsworth in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The father-daughter trip was meaningful for both, with Donna pledging to become an Honor Flight volunteer herself.
“She was in the Navy and our grandson was in the Navy and our other grandson is going into the Navy,” Dennis Dorn said proudly. “When the whistle blows, our fleet is out there protecting us.”
Locally, about 2,300 U.S. veterans from around the Cleveland area, the majority from World War II, have gone on the Honor Flights, according to Alan Revercomb Sr., safety director of Honor Flight Cleveland.
Revercomb said the amount of walking involved in the trip might scare some of the more frail veterans, but no one needs to fret.
“We take a wheelchair for everybody,” Revercomb said.
For more information, write to Honor Flight Cleveland, 37 Levan Drive, Painesville, OH 44077 or call (440) 639-9368. You also may go to www.honorflightcleveland.com or like the group on Facebook.
Tax-deductible contributions may be made to Honor Flight Cleveland Inc., 37 Levan Drive, Painesville, OH 44077.
Nationally, the Honor Flight Network has flown more than 100,000 veterans to Washington, D.C., free to see the World War II Memorial constructed in 2004 and other landmarks.
There is no charge for the veterans, and there are 117 hubs across the country, including Cleveland.
The trip includes the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Reflecting Pool, the Air Force Memorial, the Marine Memorial-Iwo Jima and Arlington National Cemetery, including witnessing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns and the honor of laying a wreath at the tomb.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7245 or firstname.lastname@example.org.