Honor Flight takes Perham veteran to see national monuments

Perham's Ted Wenner, who served in the military from 1961-63, went on an Honor Flight from Sunday, April 30, through Tuesday, May 2.

Perham resident and veteran Ted Wenner served in the United States Army Signal Corps from 1961-63.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus
This jacket was provided to Wenner and other veterans attending his Honor Flight.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

PERHAM — Though many monuments dedicated to veterans can be found throughout Washington, D.C., many of those veterans to whom they're dedicated can't visit them due to monetary and physical constraints. That's where the Honor Flight Network enters the picture. The nonprofit organization is dedicated to taking veterans to these monuments free of charge. One of Perham's own, Ted Wenner, 81, recently got to experience an Honor Flight himself.

"I'm glad I went in and served my country," Wenner said, thinking back on his service. "I'm proud to be an American."

Wenner served in the US. military as a specialist fourth class in the 56th Signal Company from 1961-63. Though he joked that his average day in the service consisted of sitting and drinking coffee, he witnessed a lot of major events in American history. He happened to be in Germany when the Berlin Wall was built in August of 1961.

A member of what's called a Strategic Army Corps unit, Wenner and his fellow company members were on high alert and had to be ready to go anywhere in the world within 24 hours. He and his unit sat on high alert during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, terrified and unsure of what would happen every day.

Ted Wenner served in the United States Army for two years in the early '60s as a specialist fourth class in the 56th Signal Company.
Perham Focus file photo

Though the 56th Signal Company was later deployed twice in Vietnam during the war, Wenner left the service before this happened. He believes the existence of organizations like the Honor Flight Network is important to honor those veterans who were deployed during wartime.


"You know, I spent two years in active duty, and there's a lot of guys that spent a lot more time and seen a lot worse things than I did," Wenner reflected. "I absolutely think they deserve (Honor Flights). We did it. We paid our dues. I'm not sorry I ever went. I'd do it again if I had to … I was lucky. I have buddies who were in Vietnam and, boy, those guys went through hell."

Though veterans like Wenner are honored now, that wasn't always the case. In fact, Wenner himself didn't feel comfortable displaying his status as a veteran for many years. After his service, he found happiness in his marriage to his wife, Doris, but he kept quiet about his service to the public. Now things have changed. Not only is he able to openly display his service, but he feels honored for it.

"When I came home from my service, I didn't wear my uniform," Wenner remembered. "I didn't tell anybody I was in the service for 10, 15 years, probably. But now, we do a color guard or Memorial Weekend, and I wear my cap that says 'I'm a veteran.' I've had people pay for my dinners and come and thank me for my service. It's pretty neat."

Being honored in small ways is nice, but being honored in a large way like the Honor Flight is particularly exciting for Wenner. Doris joked that, several days ahead of the trip, he was already so ecstatic he was gearing up to pack.

Ted Wenner and his wife, Doris, smile next to one another in their family portrait.
Elizabeth Vierkant / Perham Focus

Wenner's trip began on Sunday, April 30, when he and other area veterans boarded a flight to Washington, D.C. Throughout his visit, not only did he receive grand meals and stay at a fancy hotel, but he also got to visit many of the nation's patriotic monuments: the World War II Memorial, the National Museum of the U.S. Army, the Korean Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and more. The list of things Wenner and other veterans get to do on each and every all-expenses-paid Honor Flight goes on and on.

Prior to his trip, Wenner was most excited to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. As a member of the local color guard, he knew that watching the sharp changing of the guard would be incredibly special to him. He was also looking forward to visiting the real Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to find the name of someone he knew: Richard Lillis, a man from Richville who was killed during his service in 1966.

Wenner arrived back home in Perham on the evening of Tuesday, May 2, after several days of honor and sightseeing.

"Every time you get in a boat or car or motorcycle, just think: 'Boy, I'm free on account of a few guys that went and made us free,'" Wenner said. "A lot of them gave the ultimate too. I was lucky, very lucky."


To learn more about the Honor Flight Network, go to , call 937-521-2400 or email

Elizabeth (she/her), 24, graduated with a degree in Journalism and Communications from the University of Wisconsin–Stout in 2020. Elizabeth has always had a passion for telling stories about people and specializes in community features, which she uses for her Perham-centered content.
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