Honoring Our Veterans

New Castle plans Patriotic Festival
to honor World War II veterans

Boldery, 91, gets trip of a lifetime
with Honor Flight to D.C.

NEW CASTLE, Ky. (June 2015) – Jeff Thoke recently took the trip of a lifetime on the Honor Flight, a trip that takes veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit memorials built to honor their service to the nation. He was accompanied by many veterans, one of which, Raymond Boldery, who has become his new best friend.
The Honor Flight Network honors veterans of all wars, especially World War II, since there are very few of these veterans still living. The flight is free for veterans.
For many of them, the Honor Flight is a proud moment. It’s something that’s been on Thoke’s bucket list for some time. His father, Robert Thoke, was a World War II veteran.
Thoke Sr. was a co-pilot who flew B-17 Bombers and B-29 Bombers.

Photo Provided

From left Raymond Boldery of Trimble County, Ky., poses with New Castle Main Street Director Jeff Thoke in front of the World War II memorial during their recent Honor Flight visit to Washington, D.C.

“With the dropping of the atomic bomb, his role ceased,” said Thoke, who works as the Main Street Manager and Economic Development Coordinator for the City of New Castle, Ky.
In this role he has organized the New Castle Patriotic Festival for the last three years. This is something he can do “in remembrance of my father. He would now be 92 years old.”
Many of Robert Thoke’s compatriots are also advanced in age, all the more reason to honor them for their service to our country. These are individuals who “wanted to do their part,” said Thoke.
The New Castle Patriotic Festival is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 13. It is a chance for the public to meet and honor more than 20 World War II veterans and enjoy a parade, military vehicle display, food, arts and crafts, music, citywide yard sales, children’s activities, farmers market, line dancing and much more.

Photo provided

Jeff Thoke poses in front of a World War II tank during his recent trip to Belgium.

The day kicks off with a parade at 11 a.m. featuring parade grand marshal Chris McGill of Louisville’s WAVE TV-3. An introduction of the veterans in attendance will follow behind the Henry County Courthouse with the Ladies for Liberty singing 1940s music. Also performing that afternoon will be Dave Stahl, Time Whalen and Barefoot Best Friends. The day will wrap up with Nobody’z Bizzness, featuring Leo Night. 
Boldery, 91, is a World War II veteran from Milton, Ky., who hopes to be in attendance that day. He has become good friends with Thoke since the Honor Flight.
Boldery said of the experience, “It was wonderful. I was so pleased and so happy with it. I owe it all to Jeff Thoke.”
Boldery is a retired correctional officer and farmer. Born and raised in Trimble County, he enlisted in the U.S. Army because “it was what everybody did back in those days. All my buddies were gone, so I decided I wanted to go.”

Photo provided

Raymond Boldery displays his World War II boots he wore in the 1940s.

During 1943 to 1946, he was an Army Airborne Paratrooper. He attended jump school in England, where he earned his wings and diploma. He recently made headlines when it was revealed he had worn his jump (or paratrooper) boots on the Honor Flight.
Many people have “never seen jump boots before,” said Boldery. People often compare them to combat boots, but they are different. “They are only issued to the airborne paratroopers.”
Boldery said “people went crazy” over his boots. “Jeff talked me into wearing them. They had set in the closet for 30 years. My wife shined them up. You could see yourself in the toe.”
Boldery was in Germany at the Battle of the Bulge. “I slept on the ground in snow at 30 degrees below zero. I walked across Belgium and Luxembourg.”
He had his boots on when he flew across the Rhine River and parachuted into Germany. “I was in Munster, Germany, when the war was over,” said Boldery.
“We went to one little town and one little village after another and liberated one or two prisoner of war camps.”
After the war, Boldery returned home and “did what most World War II veterans did. I went to work.” He began farming in 1946 with his brother, Hayden.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945, known in Europe as V-E Day. Around the world there will be a Gold Star Tribute to America’s Greatest Generation (World War II veterans) on Sunday, Aug. 16, 2015.
Not only did Thoke take the Honor Flight this year, he was able to visit Belgium, the scene of many World War II battles. “I had the opportunity to go with my wife (Pam), who was on a business trip in Germany,” said Thoke. He was able to tour such places as Bastogne, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
“I spent time seeing a lot of museums and major sights in Europe and surrounding towns,” Thoke said. He even had his picture taken in a foxhole, which he said “tells the story of the Battle of the Bulge.”
Thoke compared the experience to visiting Gettysburg. “People like to go see Gettysburg. This was the same thing. I’ve always wanted to go.”
The New Castle Patriotic Festival is a way “to come and honor veterans for something they did 70 years ago,” Thoke said. “It’s cool to come and meet these guys.”
Of the million World War II veterans left, 10 percent actually saw combat. Thoke called it a unique and special opportunity to “meet these true American heroes.”
In case of rain, activities for the New Castle Patriotic Festival will be held inside the historic Locker Building.

• For more information on the festival, contact Jeff Thoke at (502) 645-5421.  

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