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North Country WWII veterans honored all the way to D.C.

Alfred Kurtz, of Elizabethtown, was one of 18 World War II veterans on the inaugural North Country Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Kurtz served for three years in the U.S. Army and spent most of that time in a stockade in Naples, Italy, where he did guard duty as a military police officer.

Alfred Kurtz, of Elizabethtown, was one of 18 World War II veterans on the inaugural North Country Honor Flight to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. Kurtz served for three years in the U.S. Army and spent most of that time in a stockade in Naples, Italy, where he did guard duty as a military police officer. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

— Filion said that, once they surrendered, the Japanese troops were good to the American troops.

“The war was over,” Filion said. “They fought a war just like we did, I guess.”

Veterans on Honor Flights are accompanied by guardians, volunteers who make sure they have a safe trip.

Filion’s guardian was his daughter, Michelle Filion-Schon, who drove to Plattsburgh from Pottstown, Pa., to join her father on the flight.

“I think this could very well be the best day of both of our lives,” Filion-Schon said. “I’m so blessed to be there with him when he sees the memorial for the first time. This is the first time he’s ever been appreciated as a veteran.”

William H. Thompson, who also served with the U.S. Navy in World War II, enlisted in Albany on his 17th birthday in 1944.

After completing boot camp in Geneva, he was sent to San Diego for amphibious training, which meant he would be transporting troops for ships to land during battle.

“The USS is Navy, and the SS is merchant marines—half Army and half Marines,” Thompson said. “The Army we dumped off in Okinawa, and the marines went to Hiroshima.”

Thompson said that, due to circumstances he was unaware of, his company was dropped off in Hiroshima too early.

“We weren’t supposed to be there yet, so we had to stay far enough off shore so we couldn’t be hit,” Thompson said. “Eventually we picked up a hospital ship and stayed there for a few days until it went back to Hiroshima. That’s when all hell broke loose.”

When Thompson finally finished in 1946, he had seen 18 months of sea duty in the Pacific.

As the bus pulled up to the Albany Airport, Thompson went silent as he saw the hundreds of people who were gathered there, waiting to greet the veterans.

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