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Susquehanna Life

Central Mountain High School Boys Organize WWII Veterans Bus Trip, Rally Town Around the Vets

May 25, 2015 06:53PM ● By Kevin

Kevin(left) with his grandfather James Strausser, a WWII veteran that will be attending the trip and Kline(right) with his grandmother Anna Genua, widow of Ralph Genua, Kline's grandfather whom he is honoring.

Two Central Mountain High School boys, Kevin Ackley and Kline Michael Williams, have put together a bus trip for World War II Veterans, scheduled on Sunday, June 7. 

"It started as a senior project that has really taken off!" said Shelley Ackley, Kevin's mother. "They have done incredible fundraising and had support from many fraternal organizations as well as local citizens to cover the cost of the trip." 

Each of the 21 veterans (aged 87-96) will be matched with a "guardian angel" volunteer for the day to assist them as needed. The bus will leave at 6 a.m., going to the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery and the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.. 

When they return that evening the town is welcoming the veterans home with fire, police and motorcycle escorts into town and a rally. Veterans will be presented with their WWII Victory Medals at the rally. It's expected to begin at 8:30 p.m. in the STEP parking lot in the Walnut Street Shopping Center in Lock Haven.

Rick Vilello, the former Mayor of Lock Haven who now works for Governor Wolf, is the emcee for the rally.  

"The boys would love to see a full parking lot of well-wishers for the veterans on their return," Shelley said. "The involvement by the town has been incredible and the rally should be something special."

About the Project

  • Project organized with mentorship from Bill Bechdel at Clinton County VA and Team RWB
  • The trip will consist of up to 20 local World War II Veterans.
  • Each veteran will be matched with a volunteer/guardian angel for the day. That volunteer will accompany them and assist them as needed.
  • Wheelchairs will be provided for each veteran.
  • Medical personnel will be available for the entire trip.
  • Transportation will be a luxury coach from Susquehanna Transit.
  • Three meals will be provided.
  • It will be a fun day filled with great memories for both the volunteers and veterans.
  • Special surprises for the veterans will occur throughout the day.
  • A VIP escort of fire/police will escort the bus back into Lock Haven.
  • Once home, a surprise rally to show appreciation for their service will be held at the STEP, Inc. parking lot.
  • With the help of donations and sponsorships, the trip will be at no cost to the veterans!

Event Schedule

  • 6:00 am Bus leaves for Washington DC
  • Breakfast is served onboard the bus
  • 11:00am –1:00pm: Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and boxed lunch.
  • 1:30pm-3:00pm World War II Memorial
  • 3:00pm: Leave Washington to return to Lock Haven
  • Dinner stop and Mail Call for veterans
  • 8:00pm: Return to Lock Haven with police/fire escort to surprise rally at STEP Inc. (CVS)

Kevin and Kline's Personal Connection to the Project

The grandfathers of both Kline and Kevin are World War II Veterans, so this is a very personal project for them.

Kline’s grandfather, Ralph John Genua, served in the US Army Infantry as a Tank Flanker. He was in the 3-day march in Patton’s Army to fight in the Battle of the Bulge. Unfortunately, Kline never got to meet him but is doing this project in his memory. Kevin’s grandfather, James Robert Strausser, volunteered for service at the age of 17 in 1943. He served in the Coast Guard. His ship, the USS Alexandria, patrolled the North Atlantic. Kevin is very close to his grandfather, who will be a participant in the trip. He is doing the project in his honor.

Attached to the top of this page is a printable version of a brochure the boys made about the trip containing all necessary information. For more information, download it, or visit the Facebook page here.

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