When Jack Bausch and his daughter, Jill Hulst, arrived at Ronald Reagan Airport in D.C., they didn’t expect much more than getting loaded onto buses to start their sight-seeing tour. They certainly didn’t expect hundreds of people to welcome them, along with the West Point honors choir, but that is what they got Saturday.
“That blew me away,” Jack said, reflecting on the greeting, going through two lines of people shaking their hands.
“I didn’t expect that,” Jill added.
There were 92 veterans on the flight, 64 of them served during Vietnam like Bausch, along with ‘guardians,’ people who escort the veterans around the sites, and help if they need assistance. Those guardians can be a loved one, who pays $500 to attend, but cannot be a spouse.
For Jill, going on the trip was very special, something she will look back on. She got selected from Jack and his wife, Joan, children because she hadn’t been out to D.C. before. After taking some training sessions earlier in the year, father and daughter got up to be at the Dane County Airport at 4:30 a.m. Sept. 22, and got onto a charter flight to D.C.
The Wisconsin Badger Flight was one of 22 honor flights that came to the nation’s capitol that day, but the pair praised the organizers of the flight, who “thought of everything,” Jack noted. The group was escorted from monument to monument, getting the official treatment - escorted through every traffic stop o they never got delayed in the heavy Beltway traffic.
They went to Arlington National Cemetery, and monuments for WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, amongst others.
The itinerary was packed, and the day long, with Jill unsure who was more tired, her or her dad. She and her siblings had always known a bit about their dad’s service, as he would talk about it on occasion, but she saw what it meant for him to visit a place like the Vietnam Memorial.
“There was a lot of emotions,” Jill stated.
Bausch enlisted in the Air Force in March 1968. He signed up for a four-year stint instead of potentially getting drafted for a year partly because it allowed him to choose a branch of service. He chose the Air Force, and was in until March 1972.
“When I graduated in 1967, I knew I was going to get drafted,” Jack said. “This way, I knew I had a choice.”
Jack stayed stateside during his time, handling aircraft parts at Wurtsmith Air Force Base in upper Michigan for much of his time in uniform. His job was handling the night shift - 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. - accepting and sending out parts via plane, which flew routes across the Midwest, collecting parts from various bases and transporting them to where they were needed.
Jack states that he knows he was lucky staying stateside during his time in the Air Force, that those people who were sent into Vietnam were in great danger, people like the three men who lost their lives from Cassville, each one he knew. “They are the real heroes,” he stated.
Bausch came back, and soon after he returned to Cassville, he got a job at John Deere in Dubuque. In the 1980s, Deere laid off a number of employees, and Jack then got a job at Nelson Dewey Power Station, a job he liked so much that when Deere began recalling people, Bausch decided to stay at Nelson Dewey, retiring in 2012.