Student Veterans Association Collecting Cards for Honor Flight Vet

08/29/2017

Saint Louis University's Student Veterans Association is gathering cards and good wishes for a World War II veteran who will take part in an Honor Flight in September to visit the monument honoring him and other WWII vets in Washington, D.C.

And the push is personal for the SLU community, Chris Penberthy, of the University's Military/Veteran Enrollment Services Office said. The veteran who will receive the cards, Ray Remiger, 94, is the father of SLU assistant professor Cynthia Rubbelke (Nursing '79, Grad '85) and the grandfather of a SLU alumnus, Nathan Rubbelke (A&S '16). 

The Student Veterans Association is collecting the cards until Sept. 8 at three locations on campus to send for the Honor Flight's mail call - a surprise presentation of thanks and well wishes that participating veterans receive before they return home following their trip to the National World War II Memorial and other sites in the nation's capital.

Ray Remiger
Ray Remiger, father of alumna Cynthia Rubbelke, MSN, assistant professor in the School of Nursing, and grandfather of a SLU alumnus, was a tank driver during WWII. Submitted photo

"I think it's possibly the single best thing we could do for the World War II, Korean War, 'The Greatest Generation,'" Penberthy, whose own grandfathers took part in Honor Flights, said. "It's to show them how much we appreciate their sacrifices."

Remiger will fly out from St. Louis on Sept. 16 with other veterans on a flight coordinated through the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight and Nathan Rubbelke will serve as his guardian during the trip.

According to Cynthia Rubbelke, her father never talked much about his experiences during the war. Returning to St. Louis following the conflict, he raised five children with his wife and operated heavy equipment as part of Operating Engineers #513. She said that family had tried for years to convince Remiger to participate in a flight but he was hesitant until reading a column written by Nathan Rubbelke for an Indiana newspaper about the need to recognize and honor WWII veterans. After reading his grandson's work, she said, Remiger decided to take the trip.

Cynthia Rubbelke, who has volunteered with the Honor Flight program for three years with her husband, reached out to her SLU community and colleagues in the School of Nursing for cards to include on her dad's flight due to the University's commitment to its veteran students, faculty and staff members.

"I knew that SLU had a veteran students organization and that we really support and respect our veterans here," she said.  Her father, although reluctant to make the journey before "is extremely excited."

Katherine Weathers, J.D., a retired military officer and the University's student veterans ombudsman, and Penberthy then worked with the Students Veterans Association to begin gathering the cards. The association, Penberthy said, was especially interested because its members were keen to honor the service of those who came before them like Remiger who are still alive.

According to the National WWII Museum,  of the 16 million Americans who served in the war, 558,000 were alive as of 2017.  The museum estimates that 362 WWII veterans die every day. According to the museum, 12,454 Missouri WWII veterans were still alive in 2017.

"It's something, especially that the current generation of staff and students may not remember," Penberthy said, "that these folks are still here." 

For those wishing to offer thanks or good wishes, Penberthy offered advice.

"Speak from the heart to these men and women," he said. "They really appreciate receiving those thoughts, even from someone they don't know. Just say 'thank you.'"

Cards can be dropped off from now until Sept. 8 at the following locations:

  • The Military/Veteran Enrollment Services Office, Room 15, DuBourg Hall. Room 15 is located on the ground floor of DuBourg Hall. Cards may be slipped under the door if the office staff are unavailable.
  • The Veterans Ombudsman Office, Room 240, second floor, Wuller Hall. 
  • The Veterans Commons, second floor, Wuller Hall.

Cards will also be available upon request at the drop-off locations.

For more information about the card drive, contact Chris Penberthy at 314-977-3425.

For more information about the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight and for volunteer opportunities, visit the flight.