Honor Flight Nevada recently recognized Korean War veteran and Susanville resident Curt Leitaker for his military service with a four-day visit to Washington, D.C. Leitaker joined 33 other men and women veterans of various armed services representing WWII, Korean War, Viet Nam, Dessert Storm and Somalia.
Arriving in Washington on the anniversary of D-Day, he was surprised by his daughter, USAF Lt. Colonel Tamara Leitaker-Myers, who accompanied the group throughout the visit to the nation’s war memorials, the Holocaust Museum, the Marine Barracks, the US Navy Yard, flag raising on Iwo Jima, Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
They had the honor of meeting U.S. Senator Bob Dole while visiting the WWII Memorial. Leitaker’s granddaughter, Savannah Merrow and husband, U.S. Naval Lt. Matt Merrow, joined the group for dinner.
At 17, along with 13 other young men from Lassen and Plumas counties, Leitaker joined the Navy in 1950 serving through 1954. He was among the servicemen who re-opened the Naval Air Station in Fallon, Nevada, later serving for 2 1/2 years in Oppama, Japan as a crewmember on PBMs and PBYs. The 85-year-old Susanville native was self-employed for a number of years. He worked for the Department of Corrections, retiring in 1989.
Large crowds met them at both the Balitmore-Washington and Reno airports waving American flags and cheering. Gifts were presented to the veterans from Blue Star Moms — a hand-made quilt with their name, branch of service and service dates were made and given by the Comstock Lode Quilters, as part of the Quilts of Valor, and accompanied with a handmade pillowcase for storage. Thirteen-year-old, Priyasha, of Reno made the pillowcase.
Leitaker called this a great trip filled with memories to last a lifetime. The Honor Flight Nevada is a program remembering those who have served this country. Honor Flight Nevada, a non-profit organization, pays tribute to veterans and has honored some 950 veterans.