With Veterans Day this week, it is time for us to reflect on what our freedom has cost our American veterans who answered the call to military duty when their country needed them. Like other things of great value, our security did not come cheaply. Many have died for our freedom, and it is so important that we take the time to be reminded of what the veterans went through for us and for the generations to come, here in Northeast Iowa. For many the memory is still vivid.
John Dale Meyer of Calmar answered the call when he enlisted in the Navy soon after high school and remembers leaving his Iowa roots to go to boot camp in San Diego. It was quite a change from his farm life here in Northeast Iowa, though he was excited to get to go to the University of California as an aviation cadet. But the Navy dropped the program in June, of 1946 and then he was then assigned to the famous USS Doyle, DD494/DMS 34 in San Francisco and back to radio school in San Diego. He served on the Doyle 34 months as a radio operator and doing radio maintenance and repair. Some may remember the 1954 movie, “The Caine Mutiny” which was filmed on the Doyle with actor Humphrey Bogart and was based on the 1951 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Herman Wouk “The Caine Mutiny.”
John remembers, “Our ship spent nearly a year in Qingdao (Tsingtao) China, assisting the Nationists in their move to Taiwan. Tsingtao beer is noted to be about the best in the world.” When the sailors had leave they would get to experience the beer and see beautiful geisha girls. The Doyle also visited Hawaii, Japan, Midway, Shanhai and others. John was dischared in May of 1949 to the Naval Reserve.
Proud to serve his country, John reenlisted during the Korean Conflict. “I was then assigned to the staff of Commander, Landing Ship Dock Squadron One as senior radioman. During this period, we spent nearly a year in Inchon, Korea. Our helicopter made almost daily trips with secretaries, ice and laundry for Rear Admiral Charles Turner Joy working on an well known armistice agreement. John served his country for 3 years, 9 months and 11 days leaving the service in May of 1951. He met Dolores at the Inwood and soon decided not to go back to San Diego where he had a job lined up. Northeast Iowa was where he wanted to settle down get married and raise his children. His dream came true on September 22, 1953 when he married Dolores and this is where they raised their six children.
John was honored as one of the veterans to get to go on the Honor flight and had this to say about it, “All Honor Flight Veterans agree on one thing, it’s a fabulous trip!” He is thankful that there are so many wonderful people in in Northeast Iowa who made the trip possible. "When we arrived back in Cedar Rapids at 10:30 that evening the crowd in the airport was estimated at 1,000. A band played military marches, a large group was singing. There were between 50 and 75 students thanking us with banners and posters. We veterans were all chocked up after this display of gratitude from caring, giving, generous, loving, and wonderful people.”
Let’s all stop and take a moment to honor our living and dead soldiers from all the wars who gave us the freedom we have today and those serving today. We owe a great debt to our American veterans and we are happy to see these WWII /Korean Conflict veteran get the opportunity of a lifetime by going to Washington DC. Thank you Northeast Iowa for helping the veterans get their well earned trip.