WEST LIBERTY, Iowa (KWWL) — The community of West Liberty showed up in a big way on Friday, to help honor three brothers, all of which are World War ll veterans.
The three Lehman brothers were greeted by a police escort and surprise party after they arrived back in town, from a trip to the National World War ll Museum in New Orleans.
It all started when Vizient Incorporated was looking for some World War ll Veterans to honor at the museum in New Orleans. An employee, Jim Brooke, who’s originally from West Liberty, immediately had someone, or three in mind.
“I instantly thought of the Lehman brothers, here from West Liberty Iowa. Being three surviving brothers who all served in the war during World War ll,” said Brooke.
West Liberty Police and Fire as well as the Muscatine Sheriff’s Department and others surprised the brothers on their way into town, with an official escort.
HAPPENING NOW: Don’t let this sight scare you. There’s no emergency here. Law Enforcement and 1st Responders are waiting at a West Liberty gas station to welcome some special guests to town. Check back later and tune in tonight at 10 to find out who! pic.twitter.com/LfDLov7u0c
— KWWL (@KWWL) February 15, 2019
“Firetrucks and police, we said oh my there must have been a terrible accident of some type and then it dawned on us, something was happening,” said Walter Lehman.
Fred, Bob, and Walter Lehman got a royal surprise welcome, as they arrived back into West Liberty after the trip of a lifetime. The trip honoring them for their service and bravery, from a time that might seem so long ago.
“I got wounded May of the 5th, 1945, spent 56 days in the hospital… got the purple heart,” said Walter Leham, who served in the U.S. Army from 1944-46.
Walter served time overseas along with his brothers, who both served in the U.S. Marine Corps.
“We April fooled them on 1945, the second marine division was on the southern tip of Okinawa,” said Robert Lehman, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1944-46.
The Lehman family, beyond grateful for the care and recognition that the trip represented, some even escorting them to New Orleans.
“Walking through the World War II Museum I’m sure for anyone is great, but when you can walk around the World War II Museum with people who were actually in World War II. The actual participants who where there and tell you this happened here, I remember this… It’s like having a walking history book,” said Family Member, Durk Sterner.
On the trip, the Leham brothers got the chance to see their hero’s brick and take a step back into time.
“I keep saying they’ve overdone it, but i’ll take it…I keep saying, we always think of the ones who didn’t come home,” said Robert Lehman.
The community came together to remember these veterans. Three brothers from the ‘greatest generation’. A rare find, especially for this small community.
“It’s unreal, three brothers… World War II and they’re all spry and just witty and funny to be around. It’s just legendary I should say,” said Sterner.
“It’s been overwhelming, what an honor this has been really… what an honor,” said Walter Lehman.
Fred Lehman served in the United States Marine Corp from December 5th, 1945 to October 5th, 1946.
All three brothers are in their 90s. Their older sister was also at the surprise party to celebrate their return.