Olie Tokheim fought the Nazi regime for the sake of family and country.
That country said thank-you as contributors made it possible for the 97-year-old Tokheim to be part of an Honor Flight to Washington, DC, to see the World War II memorial.
The elder Tokheim was accompanied by his son Joel who has served as a physical therapist for the past 30 years in his practice located on East Yosemite Avenue. They were treated like VIPs, Tokheim said, from the time they boarded a Virgin Airlines jet in the Bay Area to their arrival in the nation’s capital.
“They put us all in wheelchairs,” he said. “They weren’t taking any chances whether we needed them or not.”
Olie and his wife Lorraine have long been residents of Manteca. They were a well-respected couple walking together near their home as well as being seen in their church on weekends. Before retiring Olie worked at the Tracy Defense Depot. Many women may remember Lorraine visiting them after a move into town with gifts from Manteca businesses as a Welcome Wagon Lady.
The Manteca vet said the excitement began after they boarded a bus taking them through the Washington downtown area on their way to the Memorial and to their hotel. An escort of police cars and motorcycles with lights flashing and sirens screaming let the public know some very important people were inside that bus, he said chuckling.
Olie admitted being somewhat chocked up when returning to the Bay Area airport terminal when he and other veterans were met by cheering and clapping people as they got off their plane and walked through the airport. A half dozen bag pipers were on hand to add a special acceptance to the parade of retired warriors walking and being pushed in wheel chairs through the lengthy halls of the terminals. People were everywhere clapping for us, he said.
The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing veterans with honor and closure flying veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials built to honor their service to the nation.
Top priority for the upcoming flights goes to senior veterans and World War II survivors along with other veterans that may be terminally ill.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, an estimated 640 World War II veterans pass away every day.
“Our time to express our thanks to these brave men and women is running out,” mentioned by an Honor Flight spokesman.
To contact Glenn Kahl email gkahl @ mantecabulletin.com.