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Point of story is how it makes the reader, listener feel

July 25, 2010
By SANDY MICKELSON, Messenger staff writer

Nothing makes me want to stay in bed in the morning like the sound of a slow, soft rain on the roof.

I hate to get out of bed for anything, but especially when I can lie there and listen to the rain.

That's it. I've got nothing else to say about that - just making a small point.

Every once in a while a writer falls into a project that makes them happy. Such was the case for me when I interviewed World War II veterans going on the May 1 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.

Last week all those great memories came flooding back in the family room of Jo Ellen and Doug Brightman on the northeast side of town. She's the daughter of Victor Meyer, who took the flight, with Wayne Wehrspann as his guardian. Wayne was also guardian for his own father, Allan Wehrspann, of Ottosen, and Norm Castenson, of Fort Dodge. He stayed with these three guys all day to help if help were needed and took photos and video of everything.

Wayne, who lives in Jenks, Okla., got the three men together again at Brightman's home to show a short video he made of the day. From the get-go, that video pushed emotion right to the boiling point.

I think most of you know I can't hold a tear to save my soul. I just hoped the sudden glistening in my eyes looked like a reflection that would have come into the room from the late-afternoon sun if the blinds hadn't been closed. Suddenly every choke in the voice of every man and woman I talked to for those stories flooded through my head like a radio station gone bad. I didn't know whether to cry or laugh.

These men talked about the day with awe in their voices. And two of them, Victor and Allan, had memories far preceding the Honor Flight. They farmed within a mile - as the crow flies - of one another near Ottosen.

"We had six kids. Meyers had five kids," said Charlotte Wehrspann, Allan's wife, who also was at this mini showing. The kids grew up together, which is how we all ended up at Brightmans' place. Wayne and Jo Ellen were childhood friends.

For almost 30 years, when Allan Wehrspann got outside in the morning, if he could hear Victor Meyer's milking machines working, he knew all was right with the world - and likely both of them had overslept.

That's the beauty of memories. It doesn't matter what draws them to life, once they're dancing around in your head, you can't stop the good feelings from crawling around your skin.

Allan Wehrspann was three-times blessed on the Honor Flight. Well, four times if you count the actual flight itself. Otherwise, he had his son, Wayne, as his guardian. Another son, Ted, of Sioux Falls, S.D., was guardian for other veterans on the plane, and when he got out of the bus at their first stop, his daughter, Mary, was there to run into his arms.

When I saw that, I actually had to wipe my tears.

He held her so tightly, I thought the TV screen would burst from the tension of the CD. She told her mother later his arms were so tight around her she thought her ribs would crack.

That's the kind of emotion you can't fake.

When they started talking about the day, each remembered different things.

"Mary said it was one of the most emotional days she ever had," Charlotte Wehrspann said. Mary and her family spent the day with the group.

"I think the Iwo Jima Memorial was the most impressive for me," Norm Castenson said.

"They were all good," Victor Meyer said, "but I was most impressed with Iwo Jima."

For Allan Wehrspann, it was the view from the Lincoln Memorial looking at the Washington Monument at the other end of the reflection pool that was best.

"I'll never forget this trip," he said, shaking his head. "I'll never forget it."

And that's why the flights are made - so that veterans who served their country so well can make a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the monument erected in their honor.

That's the point of it.

So long friends, until the next time when we're together.

Contact Sandy Mickelson at (515) 573-2141 or



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