KSL morning host will accompany father on Honor Flight


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SALT LAKE CITY — Some of the World War II veterans leaving on the KSL-chartered Honor Flight next week have vivid memories of their time in uniform. They were not all involved in combat, but all served.

KSL Radio host Amanda Dickson's father, David Dickson Jr., 87, is among them. Dickson was too young to join the military when the war broke out. "Growing up, I did not know exactly what I might like to do," Dickson said.

But he came from a military family. His father was a pilot and instructor during the first World War, trying to teach young pilots in new planes how to fly.

"These things were not made to be totally safe," Dickson said. He said as a result, there were many crashes. "And my dad had the job to go to the girlfriend or wife and tell her what had just happened. How do you like the worst assignment to be in any military?" Dickson said.

Dickson was living in Bath, Maine when an aunt suggested he get an appointment to the Naval Academy at Annapolis. So, he contacted his senator and congressman and took a preparation course in Washington D.C.

"So I took the test and did well on the test — and I got the appointment from both of these people," he said.

Dickson wouldn't be able to start right away though, so he ended up a freshman with an incredibly difficult class load at Yale.

"I had gone to college my first year and did not do particularly well and so I was not interested to go back to the same place," he said.

He also realized his first year's grades probably left him out at Annapolis, so Dickson moved to a smaller school — and in 1946, enlisted in the Marine Corps.

"I wanted to do something different and I thought the Marine Corps might be something that would give me new discipline," said Dickson.

Dickson was sworn in in Portland, Maine, and soon was in the hands of a very tough drill sergeant.

"Shortly after I got there," Dickson said, "he started tripping me when I was marching, and then he said, 'What the hell's wrong with you?' and, 'You keep falling down.' "

Dickson didn't want to argue with his drill instructor.

"I got up and started marching again." Dickson said.

Dickson remembers the sergeant's assistant, however, as a good man.

"This guy, he was the best doggone Marine, just like they are in the movies," he said. "He knew that you needed to be disciplined, and he went about it in a way that worked just as well."

Dickson ended up a corporal himself — and a popular one at that.

"Everybody liked me because I was the paymaster." At that time, soldiers were paid in cash and because of that, his lieutenant wore a side-arm.

Though others tell him the memorial is for all who served, not just those in combat, Dickson has mixed feelings about taking part in the Honor Flight.

"I'm proud to have done what I did," Dickson said. "I failed to see very much, although I can try to stretch a little and say maybe other people can say that I did some things."

Dickson's daughter, Amanda, said her father's role as a marine was a humble one. But she said he is part of an amazing generation.

"It takes very little to make my father's generation happy and content," Dickson said. "And I am sometimes ashamed of the baby boomers — myself being a baby boomer — that we need so much."

Dickson took advantage of the GI bill, returned to school, earned good grades and eventually became a lawyer. He practiced law in Pennsylvania for 45 years.

Dickson is now a widower and in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. His daughter is hoping the trip will help pay him back.

"It's one of those things that I want him to have meaningful experiences to look forward to," said Dickson. "And I couldn't think of anything more meaningful than Honor Flight."

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Marc Giauque

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