Families of honor

PHOTO PROVIDEDKenneth Delisle (second from left) stands for a photo with his brother Richard "Dickey" Delisle Jr. (left) and his parents Richard Sr. and mother Edna LaTour. Kenneth will be aboard this weekend's North Country Honor Flight along with his sons Michael Sr. and Thomas. 

PLATTSBURGH — Each North Country Honor Flight is special, but Flight No. 29 tugs hard on familial ties and service to the nation.

Saturday's honorees includes the Miller Brothers — Roger, Leeward and Clarence — and their brother-in-law, Ray Hosler.

They are among the one World War II veteran, seven Korean War veterans and seven Vietnam War veterans who will be escorted to the Veterans Park by a police-and-motorcycle escort for their 7 a.m. send-off ceremony.

All are welcome to attend to honor these 15 North Country veterans on Honor Flight No. 29 sponsored by New York Assemblyman Billy Jones, whose fundraising efforts, including the Santa Sprint, have raised more than $12,000 for the project.

Local fire departments will line New York Avenue in honor of the veterans.

After the crowd welcomes Flight No. 29 at Plattsburgh International Airport, the aircraft will receive a water cannon salute.

DELISLES OF CADYVILLE

The flight will return at approximately 8:30 p.m., and the feted passengers will include the Delisle Clan of Cadyville — patriarch Kenneth, and sons, Michael Sr. and Thomas.

Ken turned 17 on Jan. 1, 1950, and he went into the U.S. Air Force on January 4 of that year.

The St. John's Academy alum sought a trade.

He attended boot camp in San Antonio, Texas, before he went to Randolph Field and on to Fort Sam Houston, where he attended Surgical Technician School.

“I came to New York City and gave physicals there for people, who were being drafted into the service,” Ken, 86, said.

“That was pretty good. I lived at the the Soldiers and Sailors Club up on Lexington Avenue because they didn't have any base for us, you know.”

Then he was assigned to Fort Jay on Governors Island in New York Harbor.

“In the morning, I gave sick call to the inmates in the prison,” Ken said.

“Governors Island was the prison for the servicemen.”

The Airman Second Class separated from the Air Force on Dec. 18, 1953.

At the State Hospital at Dannemora, he went to work there as a nurse on March 8, 1954, and retired in 1979.

“Then, I went to work at Plattsburgh Quarries as a heavy-equipment operator,” Ken said.

“I just learned it on my own. I didn't go to school for heavy equipment.”

On the side, he drove a Saranac Central school bus from 1972 until 1978.

In between the runs, he worked as a mechanic in the bus garage.

“I've been busy,” Ken said.

PLAYING HOOKY

Ken was driving a school bus when he spotted his number-one son not in school.

Mike was skipping school and walking up a back road.

“Here comes the school bus, and it's my father," he recounted.

"This was like the end of May in 1970.”

Ken, of course, stopped the bus.

“The first thing out of my mouth was, 'Dad, can I quit school and go into the Army?'

Mike said.

“He said, 'Yes.' I was 17. I was a junior in high school. Four days later, I was being sworn in down in Albany.”

Mike attended basic training at Fort Dix, NJ, where the drill instructors straightened him out real fast.

“Yes, they did,” Mike said.

“I wished I had stayed in to tell you the truth. It was back during the Vietnam War, so it was pretty quick.”

Mike learned how to be a crane operator at Fort Leonardwood, Mo.

“Then, they sent me to Korea from there,” he said.

“We first got there, we lived in the Port of Pusan on a barge for about three months, and then we moved to for Camp Hialeah.”

Mike was a truck driver and worked out of the motor pool.

“Sometimes, I drove a large truck hauling the containers,” he said.

“It was right next to where the ships came in. Some of the soldiers supervised the South Korans unloading.”

After a 13-month tour of duty, The U.S. Army Spec 4 was sent back stateside Fort Lee, Va., and was discharged.

“From there, I drove trucks for many years and became a corrections officer. I retired in 2004.”

He and his wife, Patricia, have three kids and nine grandkids.

DMZ DUTY

Tommy followed his brother into the U.S. Army.

“I joined the year after he did, and I did a year in South Korea, also,” he said.

“I went from May of '71 to May of '73. The Vietnam War didn't end until 1975. I was a cook in the Army. I was up on the DMZ for a year.”

The Private First Class separated from the military and became a truck driver.

“I did that for about 37 years,” Tommy said.

He and his wife, Melissa, married in 1999, and they have a 24-year-old son, Chase.

LOOKING FORWARD

The Korean War started in June 1950 and ended in September 1953.

“I was in before and after,” Ken said.

“I married Doris Marian Oshier. She passed away. Her funeral was Christmas Eve 2014. We had three boys (Mike, Thomas and Scott) and two girls, Deborah Carpenter and Bonnie Sears.”

Ken is the patriarch of 14 grandchildren, four great-great-great and three great-great grandchildren.

“I had a big family,” he said.

When he worked at the State Hospital, he and his wife spent 29 winters in Florida.

“We would stop in Washington, DC, probably every two or three years,” Ken said.

“The last time I was there was 2012.”

Now, he has an Honor Flight memory with his sons to last forever.

“He's excited about it,” Mike said.

“I'm glad I'm taking him.”

Email Robin Caudell:

rcaudell@pressrepublican.com

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