Glenn York and William (Bill) Schlichting, both North Fork Korean War veterans, flew to Washington, D.C. last month on the 14th Central Valley Honor Flight, providing them the opportunity to see the memorials dedicated to them and the service they have given their country.
Staff Sergeant Glenn York
Air Force Air Force Staff Sergeant York’s daughter, Linda Harrel, I served as her father’s guardian on the trip. She was just two months old when he was discharged in 1952.
“I’d still be wandering around in Washington, D.C., if I didn’t have her,” 89-year-old York said.
York, following in the footsteps of two older brothers, enlisted Oct. 18, 1948, and requested to be trained as an aerial photographer but was told there were no openings. Instead he spent 20 weeks training as a Primary Armament Technician learning about bombs, fuses and machine guns.
From there he was sent to the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and was assigned to work in the commissary store stocking shelves, cashiering and eventually as a butcher in the meat department.
“Of course York’s MOS [Military Occupation Specialty] of 505 (Ammo Handler) is not the customary background for a commissary store cashier, yet we have read many a poster saying that food is ammo,” said an article in The Desert Airman describing York’s “Airman of the Week” honor.
After his discharge, York worked for two years for PG&E at the Wishon Power House and then was persuaded by a co-worker to use his G.I. Bill benefits to attend school, at what was then Fresno State, earning a B.A. degree in industrial arts.
While attending college, he put his butchering skills to use working in the meat department at Safeway.
A 36-year teaching career took York and his wife, Pauline, from Chowchilla to Felton, John Burroughs Middle School in the San Fernando Valley and eventually back to North Fork and the property he had begun logging with his brother before his enlistment.
He had met Pauline on what was essentially a blind date while on a three-day leave when in the service. Friends had invited the two of them to attend church in Auberry with them and that began a whirlwind courtship culminating in their marriage Oct. 6, 1951.
Tears came to York’s eyes as he remembered looking out at the gravestones in Arlington Cemetery.
“Everywhere you look, white gravestones and you look at rows of them ... [you realize] the big price that has been paid for this country,” he said.
Gunners Mate 2 William (Bill) Schlichting, Navy
William (Bill) Schlichting was accompanied by daughter Kathy Hilton on the Honor Flight. The pair met the other veterans and guardians at the Fresno Yosemite International Airport in preparation for the chartered flight to the Baltimore Washington Airport.
Although 70 veterans were scheduled for the flight, two passed away before the trip including Schlichting’s good friend, Buddy Pope.
“A framed picture of him traveled with us and I was honored to be able to hold that picture at many of the activities,” said Schlichting.
There was a police escort for the three buses of veterans on the second day of the trip as they visited the WWII Memorial, the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History and drove by the White House on their way to the Korean Memorial.
“Upon our arrival, there was a special ceremony with Korean and U.S. generals,” said Hilton. “There was a class from Pennsylvania there that all thanked and applauded our veterans, too. After the ceremony every one of the Korean and U.S. generals thanked all of our veterans and shook their hands.”
“We then walked to the Vietnam Memorial,” she said. “Many of our veterans became so emotional as these men that were listed on this memorial were all younger than them and they are/were the most unappreciated veterans. Many of our guardians were Vietnam veterans and our group held a little ceremony honoring those fallen veterans.”
“Even though all the places we visited were good, my favorite stop was Arlington National Cemetery,” Schlichting said. “Watching the Changing of the Guard makes me proud to be an American.”
Schlichting’s family moved to North Fork from Los Angeles in 1947.
“They wanted to get out of the city and on to a ranch,” said Schlichting who was a junior at the time. After graduating from Sierra High School, he and friend Harvey Punkin enlisted. Boot camp in San Diego followed and “then [we were] assigned to a Destroyer Escort, USS Whitehurst, and shipped out to Korea for four years.”
“After leaving the Navy I came home and worked on the ranch. I worked for the Forest Service for a short time, then went to work at the mill, which was Associated Lumber and Box,” he said.
In 1957 he began working as a bus driver and mechanic at the North Fork School, retiring in 1990 as Supervisor of Transportation, Operations and Maintenance of all the Chawanakee schools.
He met his future wife, Shirley, at a community dance in North Fork. “She was a single, first year teacher. My mother introduced us.” They married on June 30, 1956.
For both York and Schlichting, the mail call on board the plane just about an hour from landing was an emotional experience. All of the veterans received “pictures drawn and letters written by school children thanking the veterans for their service and their freedom because of them,” Hilton said.
The Honor Flight veterans also received notes, letters and pictures from friends and family.
☆ Veteran’s service
Veteran’s Day will be observed with a Veteran’s Day Service at the Little Church in the Oakhill Cemetery 10 a.m., Nov. 11. This service will give thanks for the sacrifice of thousands of men and women for the freedoms we and others enjoy as Americans, and will include patriotic hymns, a short message, prayers and readings. Rev. David A. Sebastian, retired pastor of Oakhurst Lutheran Church will be leading the service.
Details: Rev. Sebastian at (559) 683-HOPE.
☆ Monument unveiling
The Caring Veterans of America, Inc., will hold a grand unveiling of the veteran’s monument, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., Nov. 11, at the corners of Highway 41 and Road 415 in the Coarsegold Historic Village.
Along with music and food, guest speakers include Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler, District Attorney David Linn, Lt. Commander David Hall, and General Peterson.
Details: Terry Cole, (559) 760-5056.
☆ Veterans dinner
History students at Minarets High School will again honor area military veterans and spend time documenting veterans' stories. Mountain area veterans and a guest are invited to a dinner in their honor 6 p.m., Nov. 14 in Room 303 on the school campus. The students hope to interview veterans about their experiences before, during, and after their service in the armed forces so they can better understand the local history and the service of those who have come before them.
Veterans are asked to email Minarets history teacher Bob Kelly at email@example.com, or call (559) 868-8689 to RSVP for dinner and/or an interview.