98-year-old Omaha area veteran sets up dozens of flags each Memorial Day

For two decades, a Ponca Hills man has shown his appreciation for the military.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 4:15 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Every year for the past two decades, a Ponca Hills man shows his appreciation for members of the military who sacrificed their lives for our country.

The veteran wants us all to remember what this Memorial Day holiday is really all about.

“When 98-year-old Wayne Dein was a young man he joined the Merchant Marine during World War II.

“Well it just seemed like the thing to do everybody was joining the service so I joined the Merchant Marines,” Dein said. “I worked in the engine room as an engineer down there.”

Dein knew quite a few people who were killed in the war fighting to defend our country. Some were close friends.

“I had a good buddy of mine, his name was Louie Cocheck. He’s just a movie, star he had everything. He was the first one in there and he was the first one killed on that island, they invaded one of them islands and he got killed right away.”

To remember his buddy and all of the other service members who gave their lives fighting for our freedom, Dein sets up flags all around his Ponca Hills home.

“Just to be patriotic, I just thought it was the thing to do.”

Dein has set up the patriotic display for about 20 years, he guesses there are about 50 or 60 flags that run all the way to Highway 75.

“When you’re putting them out and stuff people stop and thank you, people wave at you, so that’s worth something you know.”

Dein was in the Merchant Marines in 1943 and 1944. That too was worth something.

“That’s the worse, it was in 44′. Cause you were in the engine room. There’s a hundred ships right outside of New York laying on the bottom of the ocean. They’d blow them ships, it only took one torpedo to sink them old freighters you know. So there’s a lot of kids laying on the ocean there. Did you ever think about that when you were sailing? You better believe it. Every day.”

Dein has lived a lot of life. He drove a truck, owned a farm and some pretty nice cars, and for years, he’s lined his home with the red, white and blue to remember all the men and women who died so Dein and all of us can enjoy the good life.

And Dein plans to set them all up again next year.

Dein is still very active, still mows his own yard and will be 99 years young in a couple of months.