This fall, Lingefelt was among 60 World War II veterans honored for their outstanding service to their country with a visit to Washington D.C. to tour the World War II Memorial and other historic sites.
The trip was sponsored by the Roswell Rotary Honor Air Program, a branch of the Rotary’s charitable foundation dedicated to honoring Georgia’s military heroes.
“It was a great honor to be able to go on the trip,” Lingefelt said. “Everything about the trip was a highlight.”
The trip was the fifth annual one for the group, and is sponsored by Coldwell Banker real estate company.
When the group left Roswell Park, members of the Roswell Fire Department were in the street with their engines lit up and their ladders making an arch over the road, Lingefelt said.
“All the car horns were blowing, we had the Patriot Guard, and the Fulton County police led us to the airport,” he said. “They blocked the interstate off for us to pass through, there were three bus loads. When we got to the airport, a big delegation was there to welcome us and see us off.”
Their arrival in the nation’s capital was more of the same.
“When we got to Washington, they gave us the salute with the planes, turned water hoses on and we had a big reception with music and a police escort all the way in to Washington,” he said.
Lingefelt was among the first 18- and 19-year-olds drafted in World War II in late 1942 and was inducted in January 1943.
Today, at 89, Lingefelt is as sharp as ever and continues to be active with the Boy Scouts of America as a leader, a role he has held for 50 years.
The World War II infantry sergeant is also a humble man who gives few details about the time he served on a machine gun squad and later as the section sergeant in charge of two machine gun squads.
After his basic training, Lingefelt was sent to New Caledonia to the Allied base there to prepare for battle.
From there he went to New Guinea, the Admiralty Islands and Angaur Island where he fought in the battle to secure the island for the Allies.
“We secured the little old island for them to bomb the Philippines,” Lingefelt said. “Then we went back to New Caldonia and the Philippines to prepare for the invasion of Japan. We was on Lati, doing some mopping up of stray Japanese. The main battle was over when the war ended, and they sent us right on in as occupation forces into Japan.”
Lingefelt landed as No. 2 man in his outfit as soon as the war was over and served with the occupation for several months.
As soon as he returned home, he married his high school sweetheart from his days at Canton High School, Nora Mae Kuykendall, and the two remained married until her death a few years ago.
“I was a free man for about three days when I returned and then we got married,” he said, laughingly. “I wasn’t getting married until I got out of uniform. Three days after I got my discharge we got married.”
The couple had two children, Michael Lingefelt and Suzanne Lingefelt Hosea.
Before the war, Lingefelt lived on a farm with his parents, and later worked in Florida for Western Union for a short time before the military called.
“Daddy was a tenant farmer. We raised cotton, corn, small grain, peanuts, raised hogs,” Lingefelt said. “He later bought his own farm.”
After the war, Lingefelt went to barber college and was a barber for 57 years.
When his son was a small boy, Lingefelt met another love of his life, Boy Scouting.
“Charlie Mann and Raleigh McClure came to me and said they wanted to start a Boy Scout troop. I was president of PTA at Hickory Flat Elementary at the time. Michael wasn’t old enough yet, but I joined up,” he said. “Soon I’ll have 50 years in as a leader. I still do that actively. I do a lot of teaching — went for a week’s camp just last summer.”
Lingefelt said the Scouts always do their part, including in World War II.
“A lot of folks don’t realize it, but everyone was in it, not just those of us in uniform,” Lingefelt said.
Boy Scouts did 26 major projects during World War II, he said, including gathering 30 million pounds of scrap rubber.
For the trip to Washington, Lingefelt was accompanied by Roswell High School history teacher Alex Chrzahowski, who volunteers for the trips.
“I didn’t want for nothing, he carried me in a wheelchair all day,” Lingefelt said.
In addition to the Word War II Memorial, the group visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. They had the opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery, where they visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and experienced the Changing of the Guard Ceremony.
“It is my honor and privilege to recognize these courageous veterans for their outstanding service during World War II,” said Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) who was among those who saw the group off. “As our veterans journey to our nation’s capital, I wish to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation for their efforts to secure freedom and liberty for millions of people around the globe. I would also like to applaud the Roswell Rotary Honor Air program for providing this opportunity for our nation’s greatest heroes, and supporting American patriotism.”