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Pennsylvania veteran, 102, uses written word to keep history present

By RICK DANDES | The (Sunbury, Pa.) Daily Item | Published: December 24, 2019

NORTHUMBERLAND (Tribune News Service) — There is no more recognizable advocate for veterans in the Valley than Joe Diblin, 102, who writes regularly for the Daily Item.

But for Charles “Chuck” Ticknor, 93, Diblin, who now lives in Nottingham Village, is more than just a writer. He is a longtime friend who, he said, “has made a difference to me and to a lot of people that he writes about every week.

“He has done it all,” Ticknor said. “He played sports at Bucknell and was a pilot in the big bombers in World War II. He is my hero and makes a difference every day.”

The two veterans speak to each other daily — and Ticknor occasionally visits Diblin at his apartment, where they talk about the issues of the day, often politics.

The two first met years ago, when Diblin decided to write an article about fellow World War II veteran Ticknor, who nominated Diblin as one of The Daily Item’s 2019 People Who Made a Difference.

“When we met to talk about the article, that’s when we became the best of friends,” Diblin said.

“Writing about veterans keeps me alive,” Diblin said. “I think of those people I worked with and flew with. I loved flying.”

Although Diblin humbly downplays the accomplishments of his past, Ticknor insisted that it is those very accomplishments that make Diblin such a “great man.”

Diblin said he always had a passion for flying

Growing up in the Trenton, N.J., area, he had become involved in flying small airplanes while still in high school.

“I was about 14 or 15,” Diblin recalled. “We had an airport 2 miles out of town. I spent all of my spare time at the airport.”

He pumped fuel into the planes, washed them, and did whatever odd jobs that needed to be done.

“In return for all that,” Diblin said, “the flight instructor would give me a few minutes of flight instruction in a Piper Cub. God, I loved it.”

Diblin came to Lewisburg during the Great Depression to study at Bucknell, Ticknor explained. He majored in journalism with a minor in education at Bucknell.

“I went right out of Bucknell into the Air Force,” Diblin said, “and into pilot training. It was 1941. I got my wings, and a commission as a second lieutenant.”

Diblin was the eldest of three brothers, all of whom served in the military in World War II.

Most of his time in the Air Force was spent as a flight instructor.

After the war — he already had married a woman from Lewisburg — he returned to Lewisburg and Bucknell.

“I got a master’s degree. And I also taught the president of Bucknell to fly and his daughter to fly,” he said, smiling. “Then I taught at Bucknell.”

Ticknor relishes the friendship he has developed over the years with Diblin, a contemporary. “I thought it would be nice to tell his story. I know it probably embarrasses him.”

“It’s good to have a friend like him,” Diblin said, laughing.

©2019 The Daily Item (Sunbury, Pa.)
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