Steuben County Council on Aging • 317 S. Wayne St., Suite 1 B • Angola, IN 46703
C.O.A. Office (260)-665-8191 STAR Transportation (260)-665-9856
The Steuben County Council on Aging is a community leader in advocacy and services, including transportation, for older adults and others to empower independence and enhance well-being.
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Welcome to the Steuben County Council on Aging Community Center!!!
The Steuben County Council on Aging is staffed with dedicated people who are committed to assisting older
adults and persons with disabilities so that they are able to remain independent in the home of their choice
with dignity, thus preventing premature institutionalization.
The SCCOA is an independent, not-for-profit agency funded by: Title IIB Older Americans Act, Medicaid,
Trustees/County Commissioners, City of Angola, Churches and Civic Groups,
Steuben County United Way, Foundations & Grants, Private Donations and Fundraising.
The SCCOA acknowledges and supports the rights of all individuals and is actively involved in
serving older adults & persons with disabilities, as well as low-income families without any discrimination.
We believe all persons have the right to know what is available to help them care for themselves.
The Council on Aging staff can help provide this information to you.
We provide a wide range of information from all over Steuben County and the region.
If we can be of help, let us know — we are here to serve you!
HONORING OUR VETERANS
James Wagenknecht was a senior in high school when he
enlisted in the US Airforce. The draft was still in effect in the
1970’s and Jim was already 18 and 1-A. That was back in the
days of Vietnam and he would have been drafted right out of
high school. One of his older brothers was already drafted and
was in the army in Vietnam. He told his little brother, “you are
going to be drafted, you may as well join where you choose to
go.” Since Jim had always loved airplanes choosing a career in
the Airforce was easy. As soon a graduation was over Jim flew from Toledo, OH where he had lived all his life, to San Antonio, TX—Lackland AFB for basic training. It was a whole new experience and Jim isn’t afraid to admit he was scared.
After basic training he headed to Denver, CO for Tech School. There he learned to load bombs, missiles and the gun system. He was a weapons mechanic at the time, eventually becoming weapons supervisor. “Whenever the airplanes were gone, I was gone, Jim says. They always want the fighter jets and I worked right on them, so I was gone quite a bit, plus being in my position as a service supervisor, I was gone on many trips.
The Air Force keeps the airplanes away from the front lines, but my last 5 years I was in the desert every year flying combat missions into Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of my time in the service was spent here in the states, except training. Then after 911 every year we did rotation to different places in the desert. We went into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qutar, Balad, We were trained in all our chemical gear. When we first started going over there we were afraid of chemical attacks so we had our chemical gear with us all the time—we always had our flack vests on. The bases were not American bases, they were run by the country so we were surrounded by military police and barbed wire to keep the insurgents out. We could hear mortar in the distance—that is why we didn’t go off base. We always had to be ready, we were constantly being trained for chemical agents and such.
“Food wasn’t bad, Jim says—when we were overseas we had the Foreign Nationals of that country cooking for us in the chow hall. They fed us good! We worked twenty-four/seven so it was open all the time, plus it was so hot over there and that place was air conditioned so we were able to go in there whenever we wanted for a cold drink or to feel the cool air.”
We were down in Panama when the dictator Manuel Noriega was captured. This was before President Carter gave the Canal Zones away. We used to patrol it every year protecting our interests and that one year we were there is when he was captured and brought back to the US where he has been in solitary confinement until his death in May of this year. Our planes shot up the palace.
We flew about six trips into Turkey and I was able to see the Mediterranean and a lot of country before the war broke out. Prior to the war we were doing no fly zones in Iraq, when Sadam was in power. We went to Turkey because it was close to Iraq, we were able to travel freely, but after the war broke out we were restricted to base all the time. The last couple trips I made to the desert I wasn’t allowed to tell my wife where I was going, but she found out by hearing it on the news.
Jim recalled an unusual happenstance—”I was in Guam for a month long training. Guam is full of military bases and one day while traveling we stopped at a McDonalds on a Naval base. I am standing in line when I hear someone yelling out—Hey Mr. Wagenknecht!. I turned around and there was this girl who had gone to school with my daughter! After she had graduated from high school she enlisted in the Navy. Who would have thought I would run into someone I knew on the other side of the world. This gal used to come over to our house to play with my daughter! That was weird!!”
During his time in the service Jim communicated by email with his wife. “Correspondence was monitored and we had to be careful what we said, On a few occasions we were able to fly our wives to where we were, such as Hawaii but for the most part we did not get to take our wives with us.”
“I was retired at age 55. That was my max. They had a nice formation for my boss and myself. We had a nice cookout and I received some awards and I retired. I got a flag that had flown over the capitol building in Columbus, Oh in a nice shadow box and a nice statue. The guys I worked with went thru my records and saw all my awards and made me a shadow box with my rank, my stripes, the insignia of the base and all my ribbons. That hangs in my office. And I look at it and remember.”
Jim is a life time member of the VFW and a member of the American Legion in Hamilton, IN. He enjoys doing service work for the public. He is currently a driver for Star Transportation and loves his job and the people he serves. He and his wife moved to Hamilton, IN several years ago to enjoy retirement on the lake. They are Boosters for their grandkids high school and drive to Toledo to work the concession stands, among many other activities.
Jim comes from a patriotic family. His father was in the Army in WWII, his oldest brother was in the Navy in Korea, his middle brother was in the Army in Vietnam, and Jim was Airforce.
“Everyone should spend time at the VA, will make you appreciate what you have.” Jim believes every year on September 11, they should show the airplanes going into the Twin Towers just as a reminder to people of what happened.
Jim’s faith sustains him.
THANK YOU JIM FOR YOUR SERVICE!
Please join us Saturday November 11, 2017 at Potowatomi Inn for our "DANCING TO THE STARS AND STRIPES" Fundraising event. Go to the "SENIOR CENTER ACTIVITIES" Tab for more information