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In the air again: World War II veterans take off in classic plane over Janesville

JANESVILLE

Brothers Glenn and Ken Boyd flew together out of India during World War II, delivering supplies to the famed Merrill’s Marauders on the front lines in Burma.

“If you couldn’t find them in the jungle, they went hungry,” Glenn recalled. “Sometimes we didn’t find them for a week.”

After a while, Ken decided they should not be flying into danger together.

“It would not have been good for Ma,” Glenn said Thursday after the brothers flew together once again on a B-24 Liberator over the Janesville area.

Thursday, they sat side by side on a B-24, the first time in more than seven decades, at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville.

A reporter tapped a knuckle on the aircraft’s thin metal skin. The sound told them they were flying in a tin can.

The brothers watched, smiled and nodded knowingly.

The engines roared as the plane sped down the runway, making talking impossible. As the plane lifted off the ground, the brothers smiled.

The reporter sitting across from them clutched his seat as the plane bobbed up and down. His gut stayed queasy throughout the 20-minute flight.

“Airplanes always make me happy,” Ken said later.

Glenn was able to get out of his seat during the flight, with help as the plane wobbled and bobbed, requiring a firm handhold at all times.

Toni Rabroker of the Commemorative Air Force had Glenn hold the handles of a machine gun mounted in an open window on the side of the plane. Air rushed past the fuselage, pushing hard against the gun’s barrel. Aiming the weapon would have been a strain.

Ken had been a pilot. Glenn was a “kicker.” He attached parachutes to supplies and kicked them out the side.

Ken recalled delivering a C-47 to a classified destination during the war. He was told to open an envelope after leaving Florida. That’s when he learned his destination was Karachi, in what is now Pakistan.

“That’s halfway around the world!” he said.

“I tell you what, my dad can tell you in great detail how to fly. I swear he could get up there and do it again,” said Ken’s daughter, Cheri Bartz of Walworth, who stayed on the ground Thursday as the brothers flew.

Bartz has heard their war stories all her life. Once, Ken had to get below the fog and deliberately flew only 6 feet off the ground, she said.

“It’s what he remembers best because it was the best part of his life,” she said.

Three other WWII veterans were on the flight, guests of the Commemorative Air Force, which takes veterans on flights to honor them for their service and reporters so they can publicize their air shows, like the one that runs today through Sunday at the airport.

Bruce Muench of Roscoe, Illinois, was a radioman in an Avenger torpedo bomber, flying off the USS Shipley Bay aircraft carrier. Compared to taking off from a carrier, Thursday’s flight was like rolling smoothly across a billiards table, he said.

Burly Brellenthin of Lake Geneva was a radio operator on a B-24 flying out of Guam. He hadn’t flown in the plane for 73 years.

“Lot of memories. It was great,” he said.

“They’re really doing a great job, keeping these planes flying,” Brellenthin said of the CAF volunteers.

Don O’Reilly was a military policeman at two bomber bases in England. He knew a lot of those bombers never came back.

“My last ride was 74 years ago,” O’Reilly said.

It was a peaceful flight over Germany just after Victory in Europe (VE) Day.

O’Reilly remembered hundreds of bombers taking off and creating formations over the airfields before heading across the English Channel.

According to historical accounts, 59 bombers were shot down over Germany on Aug. 17, 1943. Two months later, another 60 were lost on a day known as Black Thursday.

Now, the entire generation that went to war is disappearing.

CAF pilot Allen Benzing briefed the veterans before the flight.

“I salute the veterans,” he said. “It’s fabulous to have you here, really.”


Crime
top story
Whitewater man acquitted of reckless homicide in drug overdose death

ELKHORN

A Whitewater man is not guilty of reckless homicide following another man’s drug overdose death in 2017, a Walworth County jury decided Thursday.

The jury convicted him of other, less serious charges.

Jeremy D. Meyer, 37, of 424 Pleasant St., faced charges after the suspected fentanyl overdose death of Joshua R. Syck on Sept. 2, 2017. Syck’s girlfriend and Meyer found Syck dead on the UW-Whitewater campus.

On the trial’s fourth day, the jury of six women and six men heard closing arguments and deliberated for about 2½ hours before deciding to acquit Meyer on the most serious charge he faced—party to first-degree reckless homicide by delivering drugs.

The jury decided to find Meyer guilty of a lesser offense—delivering heroin. They also convicted Meyer of theft from a corpse and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Although Meyer was not convicted of the most serious charge, Judge Phillip Koss ordered him into custody until his sentencing in September.

Meyer has made all of his court appearances, is participating in family drug court, has placement of his children and has a “good-paying job,” said one of his lawyers, Jason Sanders.

Wiedenfeld, as he did with his opening statement Monday, began his closing argument by displaying a photo of Syck.

Syck died just hours before his 35th birthday. The memory of finding his body, some parts warm, others cold, stuck with his girlfriend, Jessica Gault, in the distressful and pain-ridden year following his death.

“He’s someone who was a dad. He was a brother. He was a son,” Wiedenfeld said. “He was loved by his family, but he wasn’t perfect. He made bad choices. He was an addict. He used drugs, and he paid for it with his life.”

Meyer facilitated that death, the DA argued, and he should be held accountable for his—as the charge calls it—“reckless” conduct.

But Sanders said the jury needed to carefully examine what the evidence showed and what it didn’t show. And they needed to remove their feelings—albeit, some valid ones—from that analysis.

“Now it’s fair to feel it,” he said. “I would like to go back to September 2017 and smack that man (Meyer) in the back of the head. And if you do, too, that’s OK. Then take it, and set it down outside the jury room.”

Sanders used posters to illustrate two of his main points on the homicide charge. They had to do with what drugs actually killed Syck and where he really got those drugs—usually the two hardest elements to prove in drug overdose homicide cases.

The prosecution said Syck died from using drugs that Meyer and Kori L. Kincaid picked up from Rockford, Illinois, the day before. But Sanders said it was reasonable to doubt that theory based of something Syck himself said at one point—that he got drugs from the Garden Apartments.

Sanders also questioned how the drugs they bought in Rockford could last through all the different times they were shared among others before Syck’s death.

Sanders also pointed to the potentially lethal amount of methadone found in Syck’s system as a reason to be unsure if the suspected heroin was what killed him.

Wiedenfeld said the fentanyl/acetyl fentanyl found in Syck’s system was a substantial enough factor in his death to warrant a conviction, but the jury did not agree.

Meyer did not testify.

Twice during his 12-minute rebuttal, Wiedenfeld misspoke and referred to “Josh” as “Jeremy,” mixing up the case’s two main subjects. Family members noticed this, and at least one mentioned it to a victim representative from the DA’s office.

Before Koss announced the verdicts, Gault sat holding photos of her and Syck.

Kincaid, 41, of Whitewater, who testified during the trial, also was charged with party to reckless homicide and other charges. She is next set to appear for a pretrial hearing Monday, July 29.

Meyer will be sentenced at 11 a.m. Sept. 20.

Angela Major 

Jessica Gault holds her son, Dayton, during a visit to Joshua Syck’s grave Sept. 2 in Palmyra. Gault received a letter from Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, sharing her condolences.


Obituaries and death notices for July 19, 2019

Ross Arlen Christopher

Masen R. Crotty

Carol Marie David

Edna J. Faust

Thomas L. Garland

Ross Hermanson

Pauline J. Kant

Debra Ann Marzahl

Sue M. Schmaling

David E. Tracy