SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii – The 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Hawaii conducted an installation tour for over 25 U.S. military war veterans, Sept. 13, 2023.
The tour was held as a part of ‘Forever Young Veterans’ nonprofit organization’s six-day trip to Pearl Harbor for Hawaii-affiliated U.S. veterans in addition to visiting Schofield Barracks to share in the latest capabilities and training offered by the 25th Inf. Div., meet and greet with Soldiers, and share their stories.
During the tour, the veterans and their families had the opportunity to visit the 25th Inf. Div. Tropic Lightning Museum to showcase the history of the unit. Additionally, they visited Lightning Academy - where schools such as Small-Unit Ranger Tactics, Jungle Operations Training Course, and Air Assault Course are conducted.
“It’s not every day you get to meet a WWII veteran who also fought in Vietnam; it was phenomenal,” said U.S. Army 1st Sgt. David Beck, the 25th Inf. Div. Lightning Academy first sergeant. “I think the greatest thing we got to see were the veterans meeting some of today’s future leaders. For our Soldiers to be able to meet people from the past and learn from them still is the greatest thing that we should continuously build upon.”
The group, which included six veterans who served with the 25th Inf. Div., consisting of one WWII Normandy D-Day veteran, one Korean War veteran, 23 Vietnam Combat veterans, and two Vietnam Era veterans.
“Coming back here has been the dream of my life, because in my heart I’m 25th,” said Larry Dobesh, a Vietnam veteran and former 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Inf. Div. ‘Wolfhound’. “Talking to the young guys, they’ve got the spirit, and I can see that they’re living what they believe in. It’s a feeling that not many people can understand, but I do because they’re patriots.”
Forever Young Veterans is a Memphis-based nonprofit organization started in 2006 by Diane Hight in honor of her father, who served in WWII. The organization seeks to provide honor, healing and hope to U.S. military veterans 65 and older by returning them to former battlegrounds, reuniting them with their previous units and granting veterans individual wishes.
“When Larry asked to return to Schofield Barracks, we built this 'Trip of Honor' around him,” said Hight. “When we contacted the division, they were open to hosting our 27 veterans, and the visit was better than we ever dreamed. While we've been here, I've noticed how emotional the veterans are. This trip has brought back memories, and the experience has been more meaningful than we ever imagined.”
Having completed over 50 trips, visiting nine countries, and honoring over 2,700 veterans, Hight said that she looks forward to continuing to give back to the veterans who sacrificed for our country.