Military veterans who traveled to Washington via the Honor Flight Network pose at the National World War II Memorial. Among them was Ellisville resident, Doris Amison, 91, who served in the Navy during World War II. She is seated third from the right. (Submitted photo)
WASHINGTON D.C. - For 91-year-old Doris Amison, the significance of the National World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. can be summed up in one word; inclusive.
"I like the way the designers included a column for every state, even Alaska and Hawaii, because everyone got involved in the war effort," she said. "The government led the way for the people of the country to get involved, the housewives, the children, everybody supported the war. That's what the memorial represents to me."
Amison, of Ellisville, was one of several dozen area World War II veterans who were recently chosen to participate in an "Honor Flight" to the nation's capitol, and she considers herself fortunate to have been selected. The nonprofit Honor Flight Network provides military veterans with free transportation to Washington so they might visit the memorials to conflicts in which they were involved. The Network gives priority to the nation's oldest veterans and those with terminal illnesses.
Accompanying Amison on the trip was one of her three daughters, Senior Master Sgt. Mary-Dale Amison, who serves with the 131st Bomb Wing of the Missouri Air National Guard at Lambert Field in St. Louis.
Born Doris Lund in St. Paul, Minn. in 1921, Amison enlisted in the Navy near her hometown in April of 1943.
"I worked as a file clerk in the Investors Syndicate Building in Minneapolis and the Navy recruiting office was in that building so I passed it every day," she explained. "One day I passed the office and said to myself, 'I think I'll join the Navy,' and that's what I did."
Amison attended boot camp at Hunter College in New York where she worked in the kitchen and performed miscellaneous odd jobs. From there, she went to Georgia State College and was trained as a storekeeper and payroll specialist.
"I served in various locations throughout the Midwest including the Great Lakes Naval Station, the University of Minnesota and the Wold Chamberlin Airport in Minneapolis," she said.
Like many American families during World War II, the Amisons did what they could to help the war effort and made sacrifices. Doris' mother worked as a Red Cross volunteer; her father as an air raid warden, and her brother, Bill, flew B-24 and B-29 bombers for the Army Air Corps in North Africa and the Marianas Island. Donald Amison, the man who would become Doris's husband, served as motor machinists mate in the submarine service. In addition, Doris' father served in the Army during World War I and by sheer coincidence served the exact same number of days as Doris did in the Navy.
That kind of family military tradition made the Honor Flight experience more meaningful for Amison and for her daughter.
"That was an outstanding experience and of course I didn't mind that Mary-Dale wore her uniform," Amison said proudly.
"I am so glad I got this opportunity," added Senior Master Sgt. Amison. "This was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. Because of my parents and my family's military history I have a tie to the war so the visit definitely hit home with me."
Mindful of the fact that America's World War II veterans are dying at the rate of about 1,000 a day, Amison is thankful for the opportunity to have seen the World War II Memorial and hopes that the lessons learned and the sacrifices made by the nation to win the war will never be forgotten.
"The leaders of today could learn a lesson from World War II," she said. "Our leaders at that time really infected the population with the idea of how important winning the war was and what each person could do to make that happen. They effectively involved the public in the war effort and thus made them more conscious of the war and what was happening in it."
Doris married Don Amison in 1945 and the couple had three daughters, Diane, Donna and Mary-Dale. The family lived in Minnesota and then Rhode Island, where Doris again joined the military, serving as a sergeant in the Rhode Island Army National Guard. A year after Don's passing in 1972; Doris moved the family to St. Louis, where she continued her education, earning college degrees in business administration, elementary education and adult education. Today she lives in a retirement community and boasts two grandchildren, two step-grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
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World War II Navy Veteran Doris Amison, 91, and her daughter, Senior Master Sgt. May-Dale Amison, are greeted by a contingent of sailors upon their arrival in Washington D.C. to visit the National World War II Memorial. Amison was flown to Washington via the Honor Flight Network, which gives aging and terminally ill military veterans a chance to visit the monuments to the conflicts in which they served. (Submitted photo)