I am a history junkie, so I am always enthralled with people who lived before my actual memory and experiences kicked in. Don O’Reilly is such a man. He is in the G.I. yoga class I attend and talks about Naperville before the boom. Don is an active member of the VFW, an Honor Guard, and a member of the Naperville Radio Watch. He does not give out tickets, but he has clocked speeders and relayed their license to the police – among a few of the things that keep him busy.
Don’s most interesting stories revolve around some of his military experiences. His fondest memory was his first airplane ride in a B17 and being in a B24 the week after VE Day. Oh, did I mention that my fellow yoga devotee is 96!
Don’s obvious love of country and service was shared by several of his eight children. Two sons served in Vietnam and a grandson was in Afghanistan. One of his grandsons is a WWII reenactor who “has more uniforms than I do.” It was this grandson that went with him to Norwich and London, England, for a reunion of his old Air Force unit a few years ago. And yes, he has gone on an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
Don went to college with aid from The Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944, also known as the G.I. Bill. It took him eight years to finish while working full-time. He retired as a mechanical engineer.
The G.I. Bill also allowed my husband to continue his education and it still provides benefits for many servicemen and women.
Don served his country and continues to serve by volunteering and sharing his stories. I hope I can be as active when I’m 96!