SUPERIOR, Nebraska (STPNS) -- Jim Harvey and Norm Shafer grew up together in Superior. As boys, they built model airplanes together, fished together and shared a canoe on the Republican River.

They both served their country during World War II, though not together, in the U.S. Navy. Their friendship remained strong after each married and began to raise families.

On Sept. 16, they shared something else ญญ a trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorial dedicated to them and all other WWII veterans. Harvey, 84, and Shafer, 83, were among 246 veterans aboard the most recent Heartland Honor Flight, the third this year.

Heartland Honor Flight is the Nebraska chapter of the national Honor Flight program, which provides free-of-charge trips to D.C. for veterans to see the World War II Memorial, which was dedicated in May 2004.

Shafer and Harvey gathered with other veterans and guardians in Omaha the day before the flight. Guardians are volunteers making the trip at their own expense to help individual veterans, specifically those in wheelchairs.

In Omaha, a banquet was held in the veterans' honor which included live entertainment and a speech by a man from Guam, who expressed his appreciation to U.S. soldiers for freeing his country. Each veteran received a gift bag containing a T-shirt, cap and disposable camera.

The next morning at 5 a.m., the veterans and guardians departed the Holiday Inn in six buses for the airport, where they were to board two chartered jets to take them to Washington. One of the planes was delayed and had not arrived in Omaha yet; the other was there and departed on time. Shafer and Harvey were among the group waiting for their plane to arrive, along with fellow veterans Lee Clabaugh and Eldrick Grummert, both of Nelson.

The second jet arrived and the second group left Omaha at about 9 a.m. Because they arrived in Washington behind schedule, the three buses were given a police escort (seven motorcycles) to the memorial.

"That trip is supposed to take 45 minutes," Harvey said. "We did it in about 20."

In addition to spending several hours at the World War II Memorial, the veterans were entertained by the Air force Honor Guard Drill Team, known for their precision rifle-handling; toured Arlington Cemetery, where they saw the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; and visited the Iwo Jima Memorial, which depicts the famous "raising of the flag."

They were also given a tour of the city, which included passes by the White House, Capitol Building and Pentagon.

"I had never been to Washington, D.C. The memorial was really something to see. A lot of people thanked us and visited with us," Shafer said. "I talked to a woman whose father had been killed in Korea, and we talked about the differences between World War II and Korea. The country was behind us in World War II, people over here made sacrifices and did without things, too. It hasn't been like that since."

Harvey said he visited Washington, D.C., on a bus tour with his wife shortly after the memorial was dedicated.

"It was different this time. It was very special to take the trip with other guys who shared a lot of the same experiences and memories," Shafer said. "I was impressed with the organization of the whole thing. They did an excellent job. There were probably 40 or 50 guys in wheelchairs between the two jets."

Shafer enlisted in the Navy in December 1943, completed basic training at Farragut, Idaho, and further training at Norman, Okla., and Los Alamitos, Calif. He served in the Pacific Theatre aboard the U.S.S. Hancock (CV 19) aircraft carrier, which was fully crewed with about 3,500 sailors and more than 80 aircrafts. The Hancock was responsible for shooting down more than 440 Japanese aircrafts and sinking many of their ships during the war.

Shafer left the Navy in May 1946. He and his wife, Lorraine, live in Superior, where they raised three daughters. Lorraine is originally from Edgar.

Harvey enlisted June 7, 1942, after graduating from Superior High School. He completed basic training at Great Lakes, Ill., and fire control training school in Seattle, Wash. He also served in the Pacific Theatre, aboard the U.S.S. Nassau (CVE 16) baby aircraft carrier. The Nassua was involved with three major invasions, including the Aleutian Islands and the Marshall Islands.

Shafer was discharged in St. Louis on Dec. 12, 1945. Lynn, his wife of 61 years, died about a year ago. He has a daughter in Douglas, Ga., and a son in Los Alamos, N.M.

The Honor Flight program was conceived by Earl Morse, a physician's assistant and retired Air Force captain, to honor veterans he had taken care of. Since its inception, regional chapters have been founded across the country to help get these American heroes to Washington, D.C., to see their memorial. At present, there are still more than 800 veterans in Nebraska alone on a waiting list to make the trip. Another Heartland Honor Flight is in the works for later this year.

To return to the top of the page and choose another story, click here.

Telephone scammers claim to be raising money for local law enforcement

People are again attempting to scam local citizens by claiming to be raising money for local law enforcement personnel, according to Scott Stemper, chief deputy for the Nuckolls County Sheriff's Department.

Last week, Stemper himself received such a telephone call at his residence in Nelson. He said the call displayed as "unknown caller" on his caller ID and a man named "Nick" identified himself as being affiliated with the Police Officers Association of Nebraska (POAN), raising money for a policeman burial fund and other community programs that support local law enforcement personnel.

"I asked him if the money goes to the local sheriff's office, and he said 'Oh yeah, we give them money for their programs.' So I asked which programs," Stemper said. "And he said 'the programs that keep the community safe and their campaign against drugs.' I said 'like the DARE program,' and he said 'yes, they have received money for years."

"Nick" also apparently said the money helps support local Nelson officers who are members of POAN. "After that, I identified myself as the chief deputy for 23 1/2 years and said we've never received any money from them or any other organization outside the county," Stemper said.

The man reportedly became apologetic and Stemper asked to talk to his supervisor.

"Instead of putting me on hold, he yelled at his alleged supervisor, 'Can you pick up the phone? There is a guying hassling me.' Another guy then talked to me," Stemper said. "I told him what 'Nick' had said and that I felt it was fraud."

Stemper said he told the 'supervisor' who he is and that no such funds have ever been received in the Nuckolls County Sheriff's Department.

"He apologized and said he would talk to his employee, and that it would be dealt with and not happen," Stemper said. "I told him that I would be contacting the attorney general's office. I asked that Nuckolls County residents not be contacted about donations, because to my knowledge no officers in Nuckolls County are members of that organization."

Later that day, Stemper said he was contacted by a resident of Superior who had received a similar telephone call from someone raising money for POAN.

"That's why I am logging a formal complaint with the attorney general's office," Stemper said.

That same day and for several days after, similar "aggressive solicitations" by telephone for the same organization were reported in neighboring Webster County.

According to the POAN website, it appears to be a legitimate organization which dates back to 1953 in Nebraska.