Veteran travels with grandson on honor flight

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Veteran Bob Granzow and his grandson Zach Granzow are pictured above. Zach was Bob’s guardian for an honor flight earlier this year to Washington D.C. (Photo by Rachel Mergen)

By Rachel Mergen

 

Bob Granzow made his country—especially his grandson Zach years later—proud and grateful when he served as active duty in the Korean War from 1951 to 1955, and in the reserves from 1955 to 1959, as a Navy radio technician. He did not choose the service for himself, instead being sent by his father so his older brother wouldn’t be forced to go instead, but Bob recognized it was his duty to serve and protect his country. 

“I was just doing what I had to do,” Bob explained, recalling enjoying being able to travel around the globe. What really stood out to him most was being able to work on recommissioning the USS Ticonderoga, which was a Essex-class aircraft carrier built during World War II. Memories from the carrier include the airshows and the need for no cameras on the ship, which led to Bob having to tear film out of any cameras that were brought aboard.

In early May, the United States showed its appreciation to him with an honor flight that will not be forgotten any time soon, neither by Zach, who accompanied Bob as his guardian, or by Bob himself.

“I’ll go if you go,” Bob said, according to Zach, when Zach brought up the idea of going on an honor flight. Zach had no intentions of pushing his grandfather, who had just lost the love of his life months before, to go on the trip. 

An honor flight lasts one day, giving veterans the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to visit the Pentagon’s 9/11 memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the National Mall, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Washington and Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial, Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery to tour it and watch the changing of the guard. 

Throughout the day, especially when arriving at the airports, the veterans are honored by community members, as celebrations are held praising the veterans for their service. Another honor the veterans received were surprise letters written by their loved ones that are given to the veterans once they’re on the plane ride home. The veterans are also giving the opportunity during the day to visit with other honor flight groups, which is certainly a treat for them, bringing back positive memories about their time in the service. 

“Grandpa was excited to go,” Zach recalled, mentioning that Bob was ready to go to the airport by the time they had planned to get up that the morning. He explained that, even though the trip was packed with destinations to go to, the day never felt rushed, as the tour guides consistently pushed the idea of time out of the travelers' minds and instead had them focus simply on the present moment. 

While Zach stated, “Arlington made a big impact on me,” Bob noted that the part that stood out to him most was being able to converse with the other veterans and learn their stories, along with the homecoming celebrations and parades that honored him. 

Soon after Bob’s service, he married his first wife, who passed away soon after the birth of their three children. He remarried a few years after his first wife’s passing and fathered five more children. 

Bob spent his days as a farmer, taking from the service the understanding that “once you start something, you have to finish it.” He attempted to teach his children this lesson also. 

Looking back today, Bob noted the military certainly is “good for building up a young fellow.” He’s proud of his service, having enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about technology and the Navy, while also being able to work to protect his beloved homeland. 

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