Williams keeps patriotism going

Patriotic Productions runs on the energy of Bill and Evonne Williams, the only staff for the nonprofit organization that honors military service members, past and present, through a variety of events to preserve cherished memories and record stories for future generations through traveling photo exhibits, special journeys for veterans and public events. 

In October of 2013 and March 2014, a total of 619 Korean veterans flew to Washington D.C. to receive their first ever “Welcome Home” through the efforts of Patriotic Productions.  

“The veterans of “The Forgotten War” truly felt forgotten until then,” Bill Williams wrote in an email. “Thousands of citizens welcomed them home at Eppley and it was the first welcome home they had ever received.”

He and Evonne have been planning for the 70th Anniversary of the signing of the Korean Armistice will be commemorated at a ceremony in Omaha’s Memorial Park, 62nd and Dodge Streets at 10 a.m. July 29. 

A half-size replica of the Korean War Memorial from Washington D.C., will be at the park, along with Bob Hope impersonator Bill Johnson, the Greg Spevak Orchestra and reenactors in uniform, tents, military vehicles and equipment.

In addition, A Korean Women’s Ensemble will sing the Korean folk song Arirang. Army veteran, former congressman and Omaha mayor Hal Daub is scheduled as the master of ceremonies.

The event is free and open to the public. 

Patriotic Productions has organized 13 flights for 3,500 Nebraska veterans to visit Washington D.C., and see the memorials. 

Williams first met with Sen. Bob Dole in 2008 to discuss Honor Flights, which would eventually turn into seven flights for World War II veterans; two for Korean and Vietnam veterans; one all female flight; and a final flight three years ago for Iraq and Afghanistan Purple Heart recipients. 

“Senator Dole met all seven of the World War II flights at the World War II Memorial to greet them,” Williams said. A photo taken of Dole, Williams and Evonne right after their 2008 meeting is one of Williams’ favorites. 

Williams also recalled the all-female flight that included veteran pilots, flight attendants, volunteers and media. The oldest person on the flight was a 97-year-old World War II veteran. The youngest was 27 and had served in Iraq. The special guest for the flight was Loretta Swit, who portrayed Margaret Houlihan on the television series M*A*S*H.

Patriotic Productions also held its third parade in downtown Omaha on Memorial Day weekend. 

“This year featured the Marine Corps Band from New Orleans, Fort Riley Mounted Color Guard and the Tuskegee Airmen traveling exhibit including a P-51 Mustang. The crowd size was 15,000,” Williams said.

He mentioned the organization’s national memorials and Remembering Our Fallen exhibits. 

“The Nebraska exhibit has been traveling the state since 2011,” Williams said. 

The two national memorials unveiled in 2017 are known as the Tribute Towers to honor the fallen in the War on Terror since Sept. 11, 2001.