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Photos by Frank Prager
Clark Lincoln with some of the many items he received from elementary school children thanking him for his military service.
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Photos by Frank Prager
Clark Lincoln and his wife, Katherine, will be married 60 years this July.
Clark Lincoln will be 83 years old this month. He has had a long life with a good career, a loving family and many rewarding experiences.
He talks with enthusiasm, however, about one of the greatest adventures he has ever had, and it happened just this year. Lincoln took part in the Land of Lincoln Honor Flight from Springfield, Ill., to Washington, D.C., this past April.
The Land of Lincoln Honor Flight flies veterans of U.S. military engagements to Washington, D.C., to see monuments and memorials honoring their service. The honor flight’s mission is to recognize veterans for their sacrifices and achievements and to allow veterans to see the memorials at no cost.
Lincoln was born and raised in northeast Arkansas and came to the St. Louis area as a young man looking for work. He enlisted in the Navy in January 1952 and served until his discharge in December 1955.
During his service, Lincoln was stationed on the U.S.S. Los Angeles, a heavy cruiser. He was a boilermaker on the ship and made three trips to Korea during his tour. His ship was stationed in combat zones during the Korean War and was hit by enemy fire three times during engagements.
When Lincoln returned from the service, he hired on as a boilermaker for Neuter Corp. in St. Louis and worked there for more than 34 years, retiring in 1989. Lincoln lives in Wood River with his wife, Katherine. They will be married 60 years this coming July. They have three children, five grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Lincoln describes the honor flight as one of the greatest experiences of his life. His daughter Mary was his guardian on the trip, accompanying him the entire day. They were required to be at the airport in Springfield before dawn the morning of the trip. There were 85 veterans on the flight, along with 69 guardians. They flew to Washington, D.C., and returned that same day, getting back late that evening.
Their time in our nation’s capital was a full day. In the morning, the veterans saw the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. In the afternoon, they went to the National Air and Space Museum and saw the largest collection of airplanes in the world.
They also toured the Marine Corps War Memorial, saw the Pentagon and went to Arlington National Cemetery. Lincoln said he also received a wonderful surprise when he was met at the World War II Memorial by a buddy of his from the area. He says everywhere they went, people stopped them and thanked them for their service.
Upon returning to Springfield, the veterans were greeted by more than 500 people who cheered their arrival. Lincoln also was surprised by his wife and members of his family who made the trip to meet him there.
Lincoln said the trip’s greatest surprise was the mail call on their return flight. He received more than 1,000 letters and pictures from schoolchildren from Central Elementary School in Roxana and South Roxana Elementary School. The letters included notes like, “When I grow up, I want to be just like you.”
The Honor Flight is a fitting tribute to veterans of our nation’s military who have given so much to maintain the freedoms we enjoy every day. For Clark Lincoln, the trip to Washington, D.C., was the event of a lifetime and one which will be long remembered by him as well as his family.