• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Honoring his father's WWII service with flight to D.C.


For many years, Delmer "Bob" Picklesimer didn't often talk about his service with the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He did share a few stories with his only child, but Bobby Picklesimer says he never fully understood what his dad and other soldiers went through during World War II and the Battle of the Bulge until after doing his own research and watching movies like "Saving Private Ryan," which gave him "a whole new appreciation" for what his father and others from "the greatest generation" did. One of his dad's responsibilities in the European Theatre was aiding fallen soldiers wounded in combat with sulfur powder and morphine, which eased their pain and stabilized them while they waited for additional medical treatment. To honor his service during World War II and the Battle of the Bulge, Bob Picklesimer will travel to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery, with his son and other veterans. The upcoming Honor Flight will depart Blue Grass Airport on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 27, and return to Lexington that night at about 9 for a welcome home that many World War II veterans never received. Picklesimer, who grew up in Wolfe County, but has lived in Woodford County since 1973, was only 18 years old when he was drafted in 1943. He had planned to continue his education on scholarship at Lee Junior College, but instead stayed home to help his cancer-stricken mother. His father had died several years earlier. Picklesimer got his draft notice after his mother died. Military service began in the United States Army's 16th Armored Division, but "they needed airborne soldiers then," recalled Picklesimer. So after several months of stateside training to drive a tank, he voluntarily transferred to 13th Airborne Division where he received a pay hike from $21 to $50 a month. Picklesimer had not seen any combat before becoming "one of the elite soldiers" who were reassigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Camp Lucky Strike, near Le Havre, France. The fear of jumping out of an airplane went away after that first jump, said Picklesimer. "There was a whole bunch of us going together," he explained, "so I didn't think anything about it." His future wife, Katherine, worked at Bluebird Bakery during World War II. She and her coworkers wrote notes from home, which were later read by GIs when they opened the pie boxes. While remembering his own military service and listening to his son talk about the shrewd combat maneuverings of Gen. George S. Patton in the European Theatre, Picklesimer said, "He (Patton) was a great man." For his service, which ended in August 1945, Picklesimer received a Bronze Star, a Good Conduct Medal and victory medals. Picklesimer, now 91, was a division manager for Bonded Oil Company at the end of a 40-plus-year career that began as a "pump jockey," his son said. Honor Flight Kentucky Honor Flight Kentucky flies World War II, Korean War and Vietnam veterans to Washington, D.C., for an all-expenses paid visits to the memorials that honor their service and sacrifices. For more information about Honor Flight and how to nominate a veteran to receive this one-in-a-lifetime experience, visit honorflightky.org.

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