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Earl's Fantastic Adventure

Earl from American House Zephyrhills was born in small-town Poplar Grove, Illinois, about 20 miles south of Wisconsin. “It was a great place to grow up,” Earl said. “Except if you ever got in any kind of trouble, your mother already knew about it before you got home.” He attended Poplar Grove Grade School and North Boone High School. His dad made a living as a carpenter. “Everything was really kind of normal for a small-town hick like me,” Earl said with his contagious laugh.

Earl enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1955 when he was 17 years old. He wanted to see the world and how other people lived. “I was stationed on a ship called the U.S.S. Brown. I was a laundry man and washed clothes for the troops. We went to Pearl Harbor, Midway and Guam. We slipped down into the Marshall Islands too, where they were setting up atomic bombs. I’ve been to Australia, the Philippines and Japan.”

After four years in the Navy, Earl returned to California to study plumbing. But the Navy had a pull on him, and he went back, this time as a Seabee. “We dug holes, built bridges and roads. We were on land more than the seas. I finished my second tour with the Mobile Construction Battalion 5. I was 26 when I got out.”

Earl went on to work for Chrysler, building cars for many years. His favorite job, however, was working in metal. “I made doors for freezers and coolers and loved it.”

Recently, Earl had another great adventure in a life filled with them. With the help and persistent hard work of Lauranda, Life Enrichment Director at American House Zephyrhills, Earl was able to land a spot on a Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. “It was a fantastic day. Lauranda came back to American House to pick me up at two in the morning and drove me to the airport for my flight to Baltimore. Can you believe that? I’d never been on a jet plane before. The last plane I was on was in 1962 and it had a propeller.”

Earl and his fellow veterans took a bus into the nation’s capital. “We looked at all the monuments and I was overwhelmed. The Lincoln Memorial was the most impressive, in my opinion. Everything about the tour of D.C. was fantastic. The Korean and Vietnam Walls were beautiful, too. I’d never seen any of them before.”

On the return flight, Earl was given mail from people around the country, thanking him for his service. When he and his fellow veterans touched down in Michigan, over 1,000 people and an Honor Guard were waiting for them with a hero’s welcome. “Luckily for me, Lauranda found me quickly in that big crowd. She was there late that night to greet me. I’m very thankful to Lauranda for making this happen. It was the chance of a lifetime for me.”

Wiping tears from his eyes, Earl said he loves living at American House and the staff are some of the best people he’s ever been around.

“I know I’m just a hillbilly,” he said, “but the entire Honor Flight experience was fantastic!”

We all have a story. A story that taught us something, changed us and helped define who we are. At American House, your next chapter is waiting to be written. We’re here to help you write it. Your way.

Written By

Jim Dudley

With over 20 years of writing experience, Jim has worked for some of the biggest ad agencies in the Detroit area before joining American House. He earned a degree from Marquette University.

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