Century-old Jamestown veteran takes part in honor flight
Ernie Hubacker was about halfway between his 100th and 101st birthday when he took part in the WDAY Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., last week. It was his third opportunity to see the National World War II Memorial that commemorates the service of about 16 million Americans, including Hubacker, who participated in the war.
“It seems to get more impressive each time,” he said. “The dedication in 2004 was a perfect summer day.”
The memorial includes pillars for each of the 48 states that made up the United States at the time of the war.
“There are three states I have a claim to,” Hubacker said. “I am a Michigan native but live in North Dakota now and was in Illinois when I was drafted.”
Hubacker said he took time while at the memorial to reflect on the war and the years that have passed since.
“I like to think of all the others in the war at the same time,” he said. “Those that were with me in danger.”
The Honor Flight included about 100 veterans and their escorts although Hubacker said he didn’t know any of them personally.
“The veterans I knew personally are all dead,” he said.
That didn’t stop those making the trip from sharing stories and reminiscing while on the Honor Flight.
“There were moments to laugh,” he said. “War isn’t all danger.”
There was also some time for family. Hubacker got to visit with a granddaughter and great-granddaughter who live in the Washington, D.C., area.
“I feel lucky to get to see them,” he said.
Veterans on the Honor Flight toured a number of the memorials in Washington, D.C., according to Erv Sahr, Hubacker’s nephew-in-law who accompanied him on the trip.
“The trip was awesome,” Sahr said. “The more you see, the more you realize how important it is.”
Sahr called Arlington National Cemetery the most memorable part of the trip.
“To see how huge that place is sets it all in perspective,” he said.
Hubacker said he had to be a little more selective in the sights he visited.
“I’m not that active anymore,” said the 100-year-old veteran. “I can’t go around looking at all those things anymore.”
Sahr said when Hubacker did get around in his walker with the “100 YRS” license plate, it drew a lot of attention from everyone.
Jeanine Albrecht had organized fundraising efforts to cover the cost of the trip for Hubacker and Sahr. The North Dakota Patriot Guard donated money for the trip for four veterans and their escorts.
Hubacker doesn’t rule out another trip to the memorials in Washington, D.C.
“I’ll wait a year and then see,” he said.
Now, he is looking forward to the Memorial Day activities in Jamestown.
“I’m looking forward to the Memorial Day speech at the KC (Knights of Columbus),” he said. “I’ll fix up my walker with a flag and hope it doesn’t rain.”