HONOR FLIGHT: Hal and Milly Finn, a love story set during the early days of the Korean War
This is the fourth in a series of stories on local veterans that took part in the Honor Flight Northeast Indiana trip to Washington D.C. on April 25. Coming Friday: Calling all Korean War vets.
Hal Finn admits that his experience in the military was a tad different than most.
He was never deployed overseas.
He never saw any action during the Korean War.
He did, however, meet his wife.
Upon joining the Air Force, Hal and wife Milly both attended teletype school at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo. In October 1950, Hal had already completed the school as Milly entered as a student. At the time, the teletype was the primary form of communication between long distances.
Late 1950 was an interesting period. For the first time since the end of World War II in 1945, the United States was at war. When North Korea attacked across the 38th parallel into South Korea on June 25, 1950, America came to the defense of its ally, which just happened to be facing off against a Soviet-backed Communist foe.
On the Korean Peninsula, war raged. But back home in Wyoming, love blossomed.
“We met casually and our first date was in December 1950,” Hal said. “She called me for a date on the day I was promoted to staff sergeant.”
Seven months later, they were married at the chapel of Warren Air Force Base.
Both of the Finns were recruited as instructors to teach others at the teletype school, but neither stayed in the service for long. In 1954, thanks to the GI Bill, Hall and Milly headed to Western Michigan University to attend school. Hal took morning classes while Milly went to school in the afternoon so there was always someone home to take care of their son, who had been born in 1952.
Upon graduation in 1958, the Finns were offered teaching jobs at high schools in Los Angeles. There they lived and worked for 30-plus years until retiring in 1988 and 1990, respectively.
The Finns moved to Kansas upon retirement to be closer to their son and his family before resettling again in Auburn in the mid-2000s.
When given the chance to participate in Honor Flight Northeast Indiana, the Finns jumped at the chance. While blessed with the ability to travel during their years as teachers and in retirement, experiencing Washington D.C., something they hadn’t done in four decades, appealed to them.
On April 25, Hal and Milly were able to do just that. In a special touch, Milly was honored at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
“It was very nice,” said Milly about the ceremony. “For somebody who was just in the service a short time, it was a surprise.”
Now both 88 years old, the Finns look back on their Air Force experience as one not of war and carnage, but service and love.
“(The military) brought us together and we have been together for 66 years,” Hal said. “That’s a pretty good record.”
There is also still room for humor.
“When we graduated (in 1958) Hal said, ‘Would you mind teaching for a little while as I get on my feet?'” said Milly with a smile. “Well, he never stood up.”