Br. Leo V. Ryan was selected by officials with Honor Flight Chicago to fly on its 53rd mission to the nation’s capital and visit the  World War II Memorial. DSC02299

Br. Ryan is the last living World War II veteran in the Viatorian Community.

Their flight made national headlines, as it fell on the second day of the government shutdown and nearly prevented them from entering their national memorial.

However, politicians, like Sen. Dick Durbin helped them gain entry and provide a hero’s welcome in the nation’s capital.

Leo V. Ryan“For me, the Chicago Honor Flight was an extraordinary, exciting, and emotional experience,” Br. Ryan said. “It will be a day that will live in my memory forever.”

Br. Ryan was an infantry noncommissioned officer and acting sergeant major at Camp Roberts in California before his appointment to the command staff of Admiral W.H.P. Blandy Operations CrossRoad, which in 1946 tested the fourth and fifth atomic bombs in Bikini Atoll in the Marshall and Caroline Islands.

When he was discharged later in 1946, he began his collegiate studies at Marquette University and entered the Clerics of St. Viator in 1949.