GREENVILLE — Leonard “Len” Sneary Jr. is another World War II veteran from the area who had the opportunity to take the Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. with his peers.
He made the one-day trip on July 30, arriving at 4 a.m. at the Dayton Airport and returning at 11:30 p.m.
“It was fun,” said Sneary, a practical joker who celebrated his 87th birthday on Thursday. “We were in the sun for eight straight hours. It was 110 degrees in Washington.”
He was impressed that Bob Dole and his wife came out to greet the 32 veterans who participated on this flight.
Sneary’s favorite place to visit on the itinerary was the World War II Memorial.
He had many nice things to say about the guardians (volunteers) who helped the veterans making the trip.
“Here I am an 86-year-old man in a wheelchair and they pushed me two or three miles,” he said. “The flight for veterans is 100 percent paid. It costs the guardians $350. This was one of the guardian’s 24th flight.”
Another thing that impressed Sneary on the trip was how well the veterans were received.
“There were 700 people out at 7 a.m. cheering,” he said. “From the moment we got off the plane, people were applauding, shaking ours hands and patting us on the backs.”
He said security was nice to the veterans who made the trip and helped them through.
A couple of years ago, Jack Harless of Greenville told Sneary’s daughter, Cindy Austen, about the Honor Flight trip and she brought that information to her father. But, since Sneary’s wife Peggy was unable to go, he didn’t want to make the trip without her.
“This spring, it was mentioned again and Dad sent in an application then tells us he’s going,” said Austen, who noted that her mother died this past December.
“The women’s Eagles in Lima raised over $10,000 for us to go,” Sneary said.
“They received free coffee at the airport, a free box lunch and went to Old Country Buffet in Boston for supper,” daughter Vickie Martin said. “He also received a t-shirt.”
“We didn’t spend a penny,” said Sneary, who was among two women and 30 men on the trip.
“It was very, very exhausting,” he said.
“They are trying to do this for all military people even the ones who served in Korea and Vietnam,” Austen said.
Sneary registered with the Darke County draft board in August 1942 and went into the military in March 1943 with the air transport command with the U.S. Army Air Corps.
“During the winter of 1942-43, Cyril ‘Cy’ Herman and I tried to enlist in a naval flight school,” Sneary recalled. “We were accepted but the draft board would not release us. So while waiting for the draft we continued working for the Hobart Manufacturing Co. in Troy. On March 16, 1943, I received my notice to report for induction at the local board in Troy at 6 a.m. EST on the 27th day of March, 1943.”
After being transported to Cincinnati, he was examined and accepted for induction into Land Force.
“I was moved to Fort Thomas, Ky., and inducted into the Army Air Corps on April 3, 1943,” he said. I went for basic training on April 7, 1943, arriving in Miami Beach, Florida on April 9. We did our basic training on the golf course, which later became the site of the Miami Beach Convention Center. After completion of basic training, May 26, 1943, I was transferred by troop train to Gulfport, Miss., for Aircraft Mechanics School. I arrived in Gulfport on May 27, 1943 and was stationed there until Nov. 14, 1943, as part of the 416th. School Squadron.”
His training included learning about the B-25 aircraft.
“I was in Casablanca from Aug. 23, 1944, until Janm12, 1946. I flew as an aerial engineer in C-46, C-54 and B-25s with Base Colonel Anthis’s crew. This was just a means of transportation for him and to keep his proficiency and flight time,” he recalled. “While there I made several trips to each of the following: Tripoli, Tunis, Dakar, Natal Brazil, Pt. Lyot, Santa Maria Azores Island, Villa Cisneros, Naples, Rome, Cairo and Algiers.”
They flew to Miami, Fla., at 4 am. Jan. 14, 1945, and that was the end of his military flying.
“On Jan. 24, 1946, I was given an honorable discharge from the 1252nd Army Air Force Base Unit as a sergeant at the Unit B Separation Center #45 at Indiantown Gap Mil Res Penna,” he said.
His memoirs on his military career were taken from a history he wrote over the 55 years after his discharge at the request of his daughters.
Sneary, who over the years had worked at Walls Brothers, Hobart’s in Troy and in Greenville, the Nuhauser Hatcher in Greenville and Hamilton Motors when he retired, has two other daughters, Nancy Rummel of Tucson, Ariz., and Suzanne Farmer of Austin, Texas. He also has nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
A 1942 graduate of Ansonia High School, he is a member of the Greenville Missionary Church.
He had always wanted to get into aviation and, in the late 1950s, obtained his pilot’s license.
Thankful for the chance to go on the Honor Fight, Sneary encourages other veterans to go or donate so others can go.
Donations to Honor Flight Dayton help to ensure that veterans are flown to their memorial free of charge. Also, due to the non-profit status of Honor Flight Dayton, donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be mailed to: Honor Flight Dayton Inc., 525 Victory Road, Springfield, OH 45504.