WATERLOO --- Duty to family, community and country came together in one moment when U.S. Army Reserve Maj. Gen. Evan "Curly" Hultman took the stage to serenade his wife, Betty, during the Honor Flight USO Show April 13 at the Electric Park Ballroom.
Hultman, who served in the military for 3 1/2 years during World War II, wowed a crowd estimated at 800. The show raised money to fund honor flights of World War II veterans from Waterloo Regional Airport to Washington, D.C.
It was just Hultman's latest contribution to fellow veterans and the Cedar Valley.
He says he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I've been everywhere in the world, and I wouldn't choose to be anywhere else, and I've had the opportunity to make that choice to live many places in the United States and the world," Hultman said.
Hultman said "Potomac fever" never got to him when he returned to Washington after the war to head up the reserves.
"I went for the mission," he said. "When I went there it was with the understanding that I was coming back to Waterloo. It's a great place for anyone from any background to live. There are a number of challenges, but the opportunities here for those wanting them are the greatest."
Hultman's many friends in the area say he has met and conquered all challenges.
"He says, 'I will not quit until I have to. As long as I can be of any service, I will do it,'" said Kathy Martin, who nominated Hultman for The Courier's Eight Over 80 Award.
Hultman said the tribute surprised him.
"I felt very honored, because I had been aware of a number of recipients in the past and a number of them are good friends that people highly respect and are people even at my age who have given me additional opportunity and given me inspiration in my life," he said.
Even though he turns 87 on July 15, Hultman is as involved in the community as ever, Martin said.
As an example she noted his involvement in renovations to Waterloo Cemetery, where many World War II veterans are buried.
"He continues to serve for the past 10 years as president of the Waterloo Cemetery Board to keep the cemetery progressing for lasting recognition and dignity of those soldiers and all buried there," Martin said.
She described Hultman as more than "a public figure; he is a hands-on person who delivers the U.S. flags to the soldiers' graves on special veteran holidays."
Hultman also is active with the Waverly Area Veterans Post committee to raise funds for a new Waverly Area Veterans Post that will include the American Legion, AMVETS, Marine Corps League and the VFW.
"He, along with the board and committee members continue to fundraise for the full amount needed but are well on the way to being able to break ground, and the architectural drawings and ground needed are acquired," Martin said.
Hultman has been active with the Boy Scouts of America, both at the local and national levels, since World War II and was thrice elected council president of BSA.
Hultman also is past international president of the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers and currently serves as principal adviser to the CIOR, which represents more than 1.3 million military officers. In 2009 he was only the second person to receive the title of "Honorary President of CIOR for Life."
After the war, Hultman returned to Waterloo in 1947 to help organize the local Army Reserve Unit, which was the first in the nation.
He continued in active duty in the Reserves until his retirement in 1985.
The U.S. secretary of defense conferred upon him the Defense Medal of Distinguished Public Service, the highest civilian honor.
And he keeps going.
"The opportunities continue to come," he said. "The opportunity in the military world to help our great country to continue to be the leader of the free world with many challenges, to do things at home like participating in the East High alumni show and the show we had to help raise money for my generation."
But he's quick to dispute the claim that his was the "greatest generation."
"I truly believe this is the greatest generation," he said. "Every person in the military is there because they are a volunteer."