Overland police recover veteran’s lawn mower and honor his service in WWII

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OVERLAND, MO (KPLR) – Bill Niemetz was relieved when Overland Police recovered his stolen lawn mower.

“It felt good to get it back. It belongs to me,” said the longtime Overland resident.

Detective Steve Hurst says several stolen lawn mowers were recovered from an area pawn shop.  Hurst soon realized Niemetz was a World War II veteran who survived 211 air attacks.

“He did amazing things for our country.  He served 2 tours, one as a Merchant Marine and one in the Army during World War II,” said Overland Police Sgt. Scott Barthelmass.

Barthelmass is also a flight leader for the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight.  The organization provides trips to Washington D.C. for World War II and Korean veterans so they can see memorials built in their honor.

“You are walking with greatness, with men and women that served in the military that protects our country and made our country what it is today,” said Barthelmass.

Det. Hurst told Niemetz about the program. Niemetz then hoped to make a trip to Washington, but was too sick to travel.  The group blew up photos of the veteran, and took them on the trip.   They placed the photos on the Missouri column of the World War II memorial and took photos.

“So I was there in spirit,” Niemetz said.

He thanks police for not only returning his lawn mower, but for also showing him how much his service to his country is appreciated.  The city of Overland honored Niemetz in his own living room.

“Here come a bunch of Overland Police, the mayor and dignitaries filled the house up.  “It was warming,” said Niemetz.

“Was glad to be able to help him out anyway I could and help lift his spirits anyway we could,” said Hurst.

Niemetz hopes to be well enough to someday make the trip in person.  For more information on the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight click on honor flight.

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