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Vet dies en route to WW II memorial


Newberg resident Bill Vorisek was on an Honor Flight destined for the Washington, D.C., memorial

He was born and raised in Chicago, enlisted in the U.S. Army in Chicago, and happened to die while flying over Chicago en route to Washington, D.C.Bill Vorisek

Bill Vorisek, 88, was on the first Honor Flight destined to visit the World War II memorial in the nation’s capital after the government shutdown ended, when he died on an Oct. 18 flight.

According to the Statesman Journal newspaper, three nurses tried to revive Vorisek after he collapsed in the aisle returning from the restroom mid-flight. The plane landed at Midway International Airport, and he was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. that day.

But the 49 remaining veterans continued on their journey to the memorial, as Vorisek’s daughter, Jill Dorrell — who accompanied him on the flight — said he would have wanted it that way.

David Vorisek said his father was excited to fly to the memorial.

“He’s been trying to get that new style (oxygen tank). It’s a little generator that you carry (for oxygen),” Vorisek said. “He got that just the day before.”

Wendy Emrich said she signed her father up for the flight after reading about the program about a year ago.

“Interestingly enough, when we didn’t hear back from Honor Flight, after some months, I called them to see where he was at on their list,” she said. “I was told that there would be a flight out in the fall of 2013, but he was too far down the list. I told him that he would not be able to go this year, maybe in 2014. So we just kind of gave up on the thought of him being able to go. So, we were pleasantly surprised he got the call that he could go.”

Vorisek enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1943 and worked with radios, something David Vorisek said he enjoyed doing ever since he was a child.

Emrich said her father was a member of the 3rd Engineers Special Brigade and 288th Signal Company assigned in the South Pacific. As a member of the 288th, Vorisek’s company monitored and decoded Japanese communications while assigned to combat areas in New Guinea, Biak Island and the Philippines.

When he returned to Newberg, he worked as a mailman for the north section of Newberg — back when David Vorisek said the post office divided the town into north and south and “had two guys walking it.”

He also ran the movie projector at the Francis Theatre.

“I remember him lighting the arc on the film projector, which would provide the back-light to play the films,” Emrich said. “But the best thing was that us kids got to go to the movies free and we were given a nickel to buy candy with.”

When he needed extra work to provide for his family, he took a second job selling insurance.

In his free time, radios were still a large part of his life. He operated a Ham radio and helped build the Yamhill County Emergency wireless radio system.

“His call was W7LCD. The W7 indicates that he began long, long ago,” Emrich said. “He also built nearly all of his radio equipment and a lot for others as well.”

She said he mentored many novices and was still building radio equipment until he died.

“In the house there was one room dedicated to radios,” David Vorisek said. “He was a real nice, easy going guy. He didn’t really get very excited about too much, he just goofed around his house. He tinkered all the time.”

He was also involved with the Newberg Masonic Lodge 104, George L. Wright VFW Post 4015 and a local coffee club.

Vorisek’s funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Attrell’s in Newberg.

Viewings will be held at Attrell’s from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday and from 10 a.m. to noon Friday. A reception will be held at the Grace Baptist Church.