Local veteran gets big surprise in unusual place - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Local veteran gets big surprise in unusual place

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MERRILL (WAOW) -

"Good morning Radloff's," said Waid Funeral Home Pre-Needs Specialist Judy Plamann.

Donald Radloff was told it was time to pre-plan his funeral.

"I just thought we were going to talk to Judy, go back home, have a cup of coffee and watch television!" said Radloff.

When the navy veteran arrived, he quickly learned that wasn't part of the plan.

"Don, we are honoring you with the Never Forgotten Honor Flight, here at the Waid Funeral Home we're sponsoring it," said Plamann in a room full of Radloff's family and friends. Tears started to form in his eyes.

"Well thank you," said Radloff. "I really appreciate it. Boy what a welcome."

In December, Radloff had hopes of going on the honor flight this month, but he needed a sponsor.

Little did he know, the Waid Funeral Home in Merrill held a service to raise money to send him to the nation's capital.

"I thought it would be good to give back because they give so much to us," explained Plamann.

Radloff served in the navy from 1950 to 1954. He's a Korean War veteran.

"We had a typhoon hit us coming home from Japan, that just about sunk us," remembers Radloff.

While the 82-year-old admits age has snuck up on him, "they pull birthday surprises on me because I'm too dumb to figure it out," he joked. One thing he won't forget is his time spent in the Navy.

"I was aboard the U.S.S. Bryce Canyon," explained Radloff. "They're getting fewer everyday so you feel a little bit more, I don't know, just a good feeling. One of an elite group."

Now, members of that elite group will travel to Washington D.C. to see the memorials created in their honor.

"It's very emotional, for them it brings back feelings they don't want to awaken again but it's a healing," said Jim Campbell, vice-chair for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

For all this, Radloff has his wife, Karen, to thank.

"This is the one," said Radloff as he hugged his wife. "She sets this up all the time. Thank you."

Thank you--two simple words that mean so much.

"There are so many veterans, I never thought that I'd get picked," he said.

And to think, it all started with, "just a little white lie to get him here," added Plamann.

Radloff will take off on the honor flight on Monday.

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