It was all about honoring our nation’s veterans at a recent Poway Rotary Club luncheon meeting, with speakers from Spirit of 45 and Honor Flight, as well as a touching talk by Col. Bob Dingeman of Scripps Ranch.
The guest of honor at the Nov. 21 meeting was Korean and Vietnam war veteran Col. Bob Dingeman, a longtime Scripps Ranch resident, who was accompanied by his wife of 67 years, Gay.
“I’m delighted that, as a veteran, I see so many veterans here,” Dingeman said. “Veterans are so important to our American way of life.” Dingeman, who is known as “Mr. Scripps Ranch,” helped in the planning of Scripps Ranch, and has an elementary school named after him in the San Diego Unified School District, Dingeman Elementary School, whose mascot is the tiger, which was Dingeman’s nickname in combat.
Dingeman, who was born in the Philippines, has lived all over the world, and was living in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was attacked, which prompted his interest in joining the Army. He graduated from West Point in 1945. Dingeman served in 13 campaigns during his military career, in the mountain troops and as a paratrooper, and fought in both the Korean and Vietnam wars, before retiring as a colonel.
Dingeman spoke both about his experiences in the Army, and his love of veterans. “Two things impress me about veterans,” said Dingeman. “Their love of country, and their love of family. Combine these two, and you’ll have the thing that makes America great.”
Dave Smith, of the San Diego branch of Honor Flight, which provides charter flights to World War II veterans to go visit the World War II memorial in Washington, D.C., said that this year, two Honor Flights were taken from San Diego, 109 veterans in May, and 89 in October. Smith also said that despite the large number of veterans flown to Washington, D.C., this year, there are still over 300 veterans on the San Diego Honor Flight waiting list, with more being added all the time. “[Working with Honor Flight] has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” said Smith.
Ken Andersen, of Walter Andersen Nursery in Poway, presented Smith with a $450 check made out to Honor Flight to help fund the next Honor Flight. Walter Andersen Nursery conducted a fundraiser in order to raise funds for Honor Flight.
Linda Laurie, of Spirit of 45, an organization that seeks to honor World War II veterans and record their stories, also spoke on her organization, thanking the veterans for their service.
The Poway Rotary Club plans to change its name to the Poway Scripps Rotary Club to correctly reflect its dual area membership.