Earl Day often calls Virgil Kraus younger bigger brother while Kraus calls Day his older smaller brother. It is obvious during a talk with these two men that they have been close all of their lives. For them, they do most everything together, which included going on a Central Missouri Honor Flight together.

Earl Day often calls Virgil Kraus younger bigger brother while Kraus calls Day his older smaller brother. It is obvious during a talk with these two men that they have been close all of their lives. For them, they do most everything together, which included going on a Central Missouri Honor Flight together.

Kraus, being an Army veteran and Day, being a Navy veteran, had no deterrent on their friendship. The only thing that mattered was that they both served their country.

Kraus explained that his first chance to go on an Honor Flight was cancelled. This was good for him, because he could not pass up the chance of going with his good friend Day on Honor Flight 37.

Day said it was six months after he submitted his application that he was assigned a flight.

The night before the March flight, both Day and Kraus said they did not go to sleep. Once the two left on the busses, they were astonished of how much they were honored by hundreds of people on the way and in the airport before boarding a flight to Washington D.C.

“They had nurses and doctors on each bus,” Kraus said. “You are taken care of. They even do research on each person.”

Once the flight arrived in Washington, the police escorted the busses to the monuments without any hindrances.

“We did not stop for any stop signs or lights. The police led us right up close to the monuments so we could get out,” Day said.

Both agreed that the Changing of the Guard at Arlington Cemetery was the most impactful experience of the whole trip. Day added that the Korean and United States Air Force Memorial were also very memorable.

“When I saw the Air Force Memorial, I said that looks like the St. Louis Arch. I got a response that stated that the leftover material used to construct the arch was used in the construction of this memorial,” Day said.

On their way back to Columbia, Kraus said that Interstate 70 was shut down from Kingdom City so the busses could have a clear way to the hotel in Columbia where they were greeted by hundreds of people.

“There were fireworks on the overpasses and 165 motorcycles,” Kraus said.

Once they arrived at the hotel, they were greeted by a large American flag hoisted on top of a fire truck ladder.

“I have never seen so many people,” Day said.

Kraus said they were then escorted into the hotel. Day added to make the moment more joyous, he was joined by all of his children.

“They could have had a five acre field and that could have been filled with people,” Kraus said.

Kraus added that his family was there to greet him on his return.

Looking back, there was one moment that really stuck out on the whole trip for the two men and that was when they had ‘mail call.’ Letters were written from family and friends of the veterans. Day received 10 letters written by his wife Mary Lou and children. But, he did not realize that was only half of the cards and letters that he was supposed to receive. He failed to open up another envelope that had the additional material. He added that he could not stop tears from rolling down his eyes.

A background of the service of Kraus and Day

Kraus tried to join the service right out of high school. Unfortunately, his hearing would not allow him to be admitted so he entered technical school. Two years later he was drafted right before he was going to get married. He then joined the Experimental Army Division, where he was able to test new weapons for his 18-month tour-of-duty.

“The lasers were new in 1970. They would put lasers on tanks and have war,” Kraus said. "There could be eight to 10 experiments at one time.”

Day was always interested in mechanics and after he graduated from high school, he attended mechanic school for 9.5 months in Kansas City. It was May, 1961 that Day joined the Navy. After completing a test he joined the SEABEES as a heavy equipment mechanic. It was not much later that he was assigned to Antarctica. Day was in Antarctica for two tours of six months each. Day was only able to talk to his wife for three minutes during the combined year he was down at the southern pole. Day traveled the world ultimately made E-5 during his four years in the Navy.