Father and son veterans take part in Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

BITELY — Loren Crysler and his son, Alan, both of Bitely, show how patriotism can run in the family. The pair demonstrated this in October when they took part in an honor flight for World War II veterans.

Loren is a 90-year-old World War II veteran, while Alan is a 67-year-old Vietnam veteran who spent 21 years in the Air Force. Loren was one of hundreds of World War II veterans who were flown down to Washington D.C. as part in an honor flight, "one last mission" where they could be recognized for their service. Each World War II veteran was allowed to bring an escort and Alan was his father's.

Loren was born and raised on a farm near Bitely. Of his parents' five sons, four of them, himself included, joined the military. He was turned down three times because of illness and was only accepted on the fourth try at age 22.

"I joined up in 1943. I wanted to do my duty," explained Loren. "After training, we went to the Philippines. We moved around five times in landing craft to mop up soldiers fighting in the mountains. Then I was stationed at Okinawa and worked as an engineer in Japan when the war ended."

Alan grew up in Fremont and enlisted in the Air Force in 1967. Running into a recruiter changed his life.

"They had a draft back then and I was walking down the street and an Air Force recruiter saw me and bought me a cup of coffee," explained Alan. "The next thing I knew, I was on my way to Detroit to join up."

Alan spent a year at an airbase in Vietnam working with base supplies. Starting in 1970, he worked as a defense courier, transporting classified documents and materials across the country. He retired in 1989. Following his time in Vietnam, he chose to stay in, a decision he said his father helped him make.

"I came back from Vietnam and I called my dad and we talked about a job waiting for me," said Alan. "We talked about how I needed to make a decision and he said it was a matter of deciding what I was looking for. I really enjoyed the service and who I worked with and who I came into contact with. So I enlisted for another four years, and then another four years after that until 1989."

The honor flight was hosted in October and each man said he was thankful for the opportunity to take part.

"It was one last mission," remarked Lorren. "I wouldn't have missed it and it was an honor to do it. If I could do it again tomorrow, I would. It's not something you forget."

Both said the trip was amazing and inspiring. They saw a variety of sights in the capital and got the chance to talk to many fellow veterans.

"The AMVETS sponsored my dad going and I can't thank them enough," said Alan. "We left Oct. 5 and drove to Traverse City. From there we were bused to the airport with a police escort and when we went to the gate people were lined up waiving flags and cheering us. We flew to Washington D.C. and we were welcomed there with people cheering and a police escort, too."

While in the city, the veterans were given tours of monuments such as the World War II Memorial, Arlington Cemetery and the Marines Memorial.

"In World War II, we did our duty and went on our missions," said Loren. "It was nice to get one more."