For the Antigo Times
Arthur “Jeff” Wiltse and his stepson, Kyle Ziber, both from Antigo, traveled to Washington, D.C. on Monday, October 9, 2017 as veteran and guardian aboard the 30th Never Forgotten Honor Flight from Central Wisconsin Airport in Mosinee. Jeff was chosen for Honor Flight as a Vietnam-era Navy veteran serving on the USS DeHaven from 1969-1971.
Events began on Sunday, Oct. 8 with an afternoon reception, pre-flight dinner and evening program at the newly-constructed Hilton Garden Inn of Wausau. Owners of the establishment, the Ghodorzi family, provided free two-night stays at the Inn for all out-town-town veterans, guardians and their spouses. This Honor Flight included 98 Vietnam veterans, three Korean veterans and two WWII veterans from throughout central Wisconsin.
The Honor Flight’s itinerary included the Korean, Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials; bus tour of the Capitol, Navy Memorial and White House; WWII, FDR and Iwo Jima Memorials; Arlington National Cemetery; Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; Air Force Memorial; and bus tour of the Pentagon and 9-11 Memorial. Transportation was provided by Sun Country Airlines.
Jeff, 67, retired in 2003 from owning a Rhinelander maintenance business after being diagnosed with early-onset dementia, most recently deemed as a severe cognitive disorder by the VA. He and wife, Lisa, relocated to Antigo in 2005. He was employed part-time at Walmart from 2006-2009 before numerous health issues forced him into full retirement. Kyle, 32, underwent two hours of guardian training on October 8 in preparation for the Honor Flight. He is a system engineer with Skyline Technologies, Inc. and manages Stecko Investments, Inc. of Antigo. He and wife, Jenny, are expecting their first child in November. Jeff also has three stepdaughters, Mindy Porier of Tartu, Estonia, Shalynn Korn of Merrill, Amanda Lyon of Park Falls, and another stepson, Jerry Lyon of Green Bay.
Other highlights of the Honor Flight experience included the hundreds of family and friends welcoming home veterans at CWA despite the nearly two-hour flight delay, veteran spouses escorted into the airport by the Soul Riders Motorcycle Club, local Boy and Girl Scouts assisting veterans with luggage arriving at the hotel on Sunday, and a wives luncheon and tour of Birds In Art at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau.