The "Bob and Tom Show" is a popular radio program, but Tiffin has its own Bob and Tom - Bob Gannon and Tom Speck. Growing up in the neighborhood around Mohawk and Circular Streets, the men became childhood friends.
"He lived just around the corner from me. He and his brother Orville started out at Monroe Street School and went all the way through. I lived on the corner of Circular and Mohawk, and Bob lived on Mohawk. He had to walk by my house every day to go to school," Speck said. "We played football and baseball and everything together."
From Columbian High School, Speck enlisted in the Army Air Corps and Gannon joined the Coast Guard during World War II.
Bob Gannon (left) and Tom Speck are pictured while home on leave in 1945...
After living apart for about 40 years, the two friends have reconnected. They were aboard Wednesday's Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Gannon had found a 1945 photograph of the two of them and took it along. Channel 13 television filmed the men and the picture as they were preparing to board the plane and gave them a spot on the noon news Wednesday.
"He was home on leave and I was home on leave during the war, so we got our picture taken side-by-side. I took that along with us." Gannon said.
Jody O'Millian of Tiffin served as Gannon's guardian, and his wife Lisa O'Millian served as guardian for Speck. Jody said he had been trying to convince Gannon to sign up for an Honor Flight. Gannon was hesitant until his friend moved back to Tiffin in July and expressed interest in going.
"I had applied for it down in San Antonio. I found out later I was approved for it down there - after I had left. When I got here, I said, 'Bob, let's apply for that.' We did and it came through," Speck said.
O'Millian then requested that he and his wife serve as guardians for the two friends so all four could travel together. It was the first trip for Lisa and the fourth trip for Jody. As previously reported, the Sept. 26 flight included many Korean War veterans. Jody said the weather was good and they even made some connections a bit early.
"Everything went as scheduled ... It was the first trip that we didn't get caught in a traffic jam," Jody said. "Mitt Romney was up in Toledo waiting on us, and he shook all their hands as they came off the plane."
Even though Gannon is a Democrat, he shook Romney's hand at the airport. He hopes fellow Dems won't be too hard on him. Gannon said Sept. 26 is the day he was discharged from the military, so the trip had extra significance for him. In addition, his 91st birthday is this week.
"It was really a nice trip. Everything is regulated down to the minute ... It was really a fun deal," Gannon said. "If there's any World War II or Korean guys, sign up for it. It is well worth it ... It's something to remember."
After World War II, Speck became a member of the reserves and served again during the Korean War. He said he flew missions over China, Burma and India. When that duty was finished, he relocated to San Antonio, Texas. Now, at age 89, he has to get used to Ohio winters again.
Speck had visited Washington, D.C. several times in the 1940s, but not recently. One disappointment was not running into any other veterans who had served in China. Otherwise, he was glad for the opportunity to go.
"I would recommend it to any veteran. They should try for it while they have a chance," Speck said.
Now that Gannon and Speck have taken the flight, they are spreading the word that every WWII veteran who is able should try to sign up. World War II veterans have priority over Korean vets. Each traveler gets a disposable camera to use on the trip. Jody was pleased about the special October 23 Honor Flight that has been added for Vietnam veterans. He plans to attend the welcome-home celebration for that group.
"The Vietnam guys had a terrible welcome home, so I'm anxious for that one," he said.