Franklin Teel, who is known by his middle name, Dwight, was greeted with cheers, hugs, smiles and handshakes as he maneuvered his wheelchair past the crowds after leaving the airplane that brought him home from a day trip to Washington, D.C.
Teel, 92, of Waukesha, was among the World War II veterans who were given the opportunity to travel to the National World War II Memorial that opened in 2004 through the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.
“I have never experienced so much attention, so much respect,” said Teel, while waiting to go home after the flight. “… I was overwhelmed. On the plane, we were given package of mail that came in from friends. I couldn’t help it – it brought tears to my eyes.”
The Stars and Stripes Honor Flight provides the opportunity for World War II veterans to take an early morning flight from Milwaukee to see the memorial. The veterans return the same day, and all the veterans travel with a companion. Teel made the trip with his granddaughter, Ashley Teel, who helped him throughout the day.
“It was great, very meaningful, very inspirational,” Teel said. “Over 65 years – you kind of lose the vitality of this whole thing. This brought it all back.”
Teel was 24 years old and a school teacher when he was drafted into the Army. He set aside the chalkboard, the school books, the grades and the students and spent the next 47 months in the service. The Waukesha man was stationed in the Aleutian Islands during part of the war.
“At the time, the Japanese were invading the islands,” Teel explained.