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Manorville family has Air Force legacy

Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Michael Fichthorn and his son Kevin together with a display of family members in the armed forces. Thursday November 7, 2013

WWII vet takes final Honor Flight

A World War II veteran and former Kittanning resident was chosen to fly on the final Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight to visit monuments in Washington.

Bill Roofner, 85, who resides in Diamondhead, Miss., with his wife Doris, served as a Yeoman, third class, on the USS Samuel N. Moore (DD-747) Destroyer in the Navy.

He was one of 74 World War II veterans who made the trip last week. It marked Roofner's first trip to the nation's capital.

“I was one of the youngest guys there,” Roofner said, chuckling. “It was quite fantastic.”

Roofner said he visited several monuments, including the Lincoln Memorial, but was most touched by a trip to the Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

“There's just miles and miles of veterans buried there,” he said.

Roofner said he served in the Invasion of the Pilippines and the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

“I was out there for 18 months, without seeing any land, but it was all right,” Roofner said. “I was a young guy, and it was an honor to be able to serve the country.”

Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The Fichthorn military legacy will carry on, as the youngest member of the Manorville family committed to the Air Force.

Kevin Fichthorn, 18, a senior at Ford City High School, is the fourth member of his immediate family to enlist in the Air Force.

His father, Michael, 46, served in the Air Force from 1986 to 1990.

Kevin's brothers, Cameron, 23, and Shawn, 20, are serving in the Air Force, stationed in Las Vegas, and San Antonio, respectively.

“At first, I wasn't looking forward to getting into the Air Force,” Kevin said. “But I saw my brother Shawn go through basic training and graduation, and I realized it's a good thing to do.”

Michael Fichthorn said he joined the Air Force because his father, Joseph, served in the Navy during Vietnam. The majority of the men in his family have served in the military.

“It's just what we've always done, and it was the best thing I've ever done because it taught me a lot of responsibility right away,” Michael Fichthorn said. “Watching my sons do the same thing is incredible because you know they have a secure future.”

Michael said he is glad his sons chose the Air Force since they are not on the front line of combat, like members of the Army and Marines.

“God bless the Army and Marines for what they do, but I'm thankful they aren't on the front lines,” Michael said. “It's still not the least dangerous profession, but it's not like they're not out there with rifles.”

Kevin's mother, Heidi, said the military was a good choice for her sons because the job market is so competitive.

“For a kid just graduating, the only job they could get was in fast food,” Heidi Fichthorn said. “But they were able to go into the Air Force and learn all these incredible skills, which will put them in a much better position.”

With the Air Force, Shawn works in an ambulatory surgery center and is working toward a degree in pharmacy. Shawn is in his second year of service and has not been deployed, Michael Fichthorn said.

Cameron Fichthorn is a certified welder and a member of the Red Force Squadron and was deployed for approximately one year. He works in construction with the Air Force, Michael said. Cameron served for four years and has extended his service by one year.

Kevin said he plans to explore careers in pharmacy and cyber security through the Air Force.

He committed to a delayed enlistment, which means he has committed to the Air Force but will not go to basic training until Sept. 1. In the months leading up to basic training, Kevin said he is reflecting on his father's and brothers' stories.

“I get to mentally prepare myself for all of this,” Kevin said. “It's made it a lot easier.”

Although the Air Force was the best decision for his sons, Michael said it might not be the best choice for everyone. It's important to research all options and speak to recruiters before committing to the military, he said.

“Just don't go in blindly. Know what you're signing up for and make sure the recruiters are telling you the truth,” Michael said. “Once you sign up, you're there, so make sure you have all of the information first.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or

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