A Flight of Honor


By Sandi Latimer
Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Honor Flight
Tim Cronin of Grove City was part of Honor Flight Columbus on April 7. He, along with 90 other veterans, made a one-day trip to our nation’s capitol.

The first time Tim Cronin flew, he jumped out of the airplane.

The Grove City native was a paratrooper during the Korean War and stationed at Fort Benning, Ga.

“We never did get to Korea,” he reminisced April 5 as he prepared to go on Honor Flight Columbus, a trip to Washington, D.C., offered to veterans of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Cronin saw service in both World War II and Korea. He was a signalman in the Navy during World War II. He was only 17 when he enlisted in the Navy in 1943.

“Mom had to sign for me,” said the 91-year-old over lunch at the Franklin County Banking Center.

Since he wasn’t yet 18, he needed a parental signature on his enlistment papers.

“I wanted to go, but she didn’t want me to, but she signed anyway,” Cronin said.

He spent 1943 to 1946 in the European Theater, serving aboard seven ships.

“We crossed the English Channel 60 times,” he said. “I was on an LSC on D-Day.”

Cronin cruised the Mediterranean after that and came home in 1946 on the James Whitcomb Riley. He started working on the New York Central Railroad as a conductor and also joined the inactive reserves. When action stepped up in Korea, he signed up for the Army, but spent those three years stateside.

“They didn’t use paratroopers much then,” he said.

After three years in the Army, he returned to Grove City, resumed working on the railroad. The NYC eventually merged to become Conrail and he retired in 1988 after 46 years.

He was married and lost his wife. His cousin had also passed on, so nine years ago Cronin married his cousin’s widow Janice, who is now 86.

“I’d known her since 1946,” he said.

While Cronin was being questioned by bank employees about his years of service, he was able to get in a few questions of his own, especially to Mike Sherron, a guardian for Honor Flight Columbus. A guardian is a volunteer who is assigned to a veteran during the day-long visit.

“Anything they want or need, we get it for them,” he said. “We also help get them on and off the plane and bus.”

Sherron, a paramedic in Delaware County, was not flying on this flight, but was planning to go on the next one.

“After that one, we’ll take a break and resume in the fall,” he said. “We usually run six flights a season, but this year we slipped in another one. Last fall we flew our five thousandth vet.”

Cronin’s flight out of John Glenn Columbus International Airport had 90 vets and the 90 guardians. The flight left around daybreak for the nation’s capital and returned late that same evening. Veterans had a tour of the National Mall, stopping at such places as the World War II monument, the display to the Korean War, the statue replica of raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and the Vietnam Wall.

The flight is of no cost to the veterans or guardians. Honor Flight Columbus is supported by donations. A lunch and get acquainted with the Cronins was held at the Franklin County Banking Center because the business is a corporate sponsor, Sherron said.

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