Dallas, Texas—A North Dallas man who helped people capture memories for nearly four decades recently made a few himself.
Albert Binko, a U.S. Army veteran from World War II and retired photography lab owner, participated in an Honor Flight DFW trip to the national war memorials in Washington, DC last month.
Mr. Binko served as a scout in the 63rd Infantry Division from 1944-46. His unit fought through France and Germany along the infamous Siegfried Line (also known as the Westwall) through Heidelberg and Munich to the Danube River.
The Allied advance brought a cease to hostilities in the European theater in May, 1945, but the prospect of more fighting loomed.
"The talk was that the U.S. and its Allies would need one million troops to invade Japan later in the year. The boats were lined up, ready to go," recalled Mr. Binko. "But it never happened. We were fortunate."
Another operation would forever be etched in Mr. Binko's mind. While offering humanitarian support to hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in Europe, his unit came across the Landsberg Concentration Camp.
"I drove the second jeep that went into the camp. It was horrible as the prisoners were literally skin and bones," stated Mr. Binko. "For an eighteen year old, this made an impression on me, and I was so glad that we were able to liberate those men and women."
Upon returning to his hometown of Baltimore, Maryland, Mr. Binko took advantage of the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Maryland-College Park as an engineering major. He would eventually take over his family's photo development business, becoming the first shop of its kind to offer color film processing in Baltimore.
Four years ago, Mr. Binko and his wife, Patricia, moved to Highland Springs retirement community in North Dallas. There, he met fellow veterans, became aware of Honor Flight DFW and participated in a trip with the organization in 2013.
For his second Honor Flight, he joined eleven other veterans of World War II and their chaperones from Texas in early December for a special four-day visit to the nation's capital. It was a commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor invasion.
Their first-day schedule was hectic as they visited Arlington National Cemetery, the Iwo Jima Memorial, the U.S. Navy Memorial and, in the evening, the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
After touring the National World War II Memorial on the second day, the group took in a Monday Night Football game that featured the hometown Dallas Cowboys against the rival Washington Redskins.
The group earned the ultimate fan experience, watching warm-ups from the sidelines and the game from a suite.
"Two things stood out from that night. General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff for the U.S. Army, spoke to each of us personally. Later, they announced that veterans from the Honor Flight were in attendance, and the fans gave us a tremendous ovation. It was very moving," described Mr. Binko.
The next day, the group returned to Texas with new memories and friendships made and a fortified appreciation of those they left behind seven decades ago.
"The folks from Honor Flight DFW do a tremendous job of coordinating the itinerary, and people in Washington warmly welcomed us at every stop," Mr. Binko said. "It was an outstanding experience."
About Highland Springs: Highland Springs is one of eighteen continuing care retirement communities managed by Erickson Living. Located in North Dallas, Texas, the scenic 89-acre campus is home to more than 790 residents. Highland Springs is the ideal greater Dallas retirement destination offering a true sense of community, convenience beyond compare and a sensible financial structure.