Saturday, June 1, 2013

Trip of a Lifetime!

As I was watching the PBS Memorial Day Concert this past week end and the scenes of Washington DC military monuments,  I was reminded of the Honor Flights that transport World War II veterans to see their monument.

The WW II monument was completed in 2004 at time that most veterans of the War were in their late 80's making it difficult for many of them to see the memorial.   Honor Flight began in 2005 and by the end of 2012 has transported more than 98,500 veterans to the memorial at no cost to them.
Time is running out to make this trip possible for remaining WW II veterans as most are in their 90s and more than 800 are dying every day.

My father served in the Navy during WW II and was so proud of all the military service of  all our soldiers for our country.  He died the year the memorial was completed.  To honor him, I felt compelled to help make it possible for other veterans to make the trip. So I volunteered to be a guardian on one of the flights.I was assigned to 3 special veterans, who enriched my life by sharing this trip with them.

On May 4, 2011 Honor Flight out of New Bern, NC left very early in the morning carrying 108 veterans, 36 guardians, a medical team and 3 team leaders on a trip of a lifetime.    A very emotional and reflective day. 

I am in awe of the courage and strength of our veterans, our Heroes. 
 Everywhere along the way these veterans were given the respect they deserve-lots of  hand shaking and "thank you's" by strangers.  When we arrived at the WW II memorial, there was a greeting and welcome by our NC congressman, Walter Jones and an escort by a bagpipe team.

There was much emotion during the day as being with other veterans who understood what was sacrificed and what was won brought back the horrors of the War and thoughts long repressed.

 While at the memorial, it was wonderful see Honor Flights from other states arrive.

Many veterans were in wheel chairs but thanks to
their guardian, they were able to  make the trip.
One of the three veterans I assisted

The other two veterans who made the day special
 After the WW II memorial, we traveled by bus on a quick tour of Washington, then on to the Korean War memorial, Vietnam memorial, Iwo Jima memorial, and the Air Force memorial.  Although this was a very long and exhausting day everyone was so happy to have made the trip and finally receive recognition for what they each had given.
The return home.
 Mail call was a very important during the time away from home. Remember there was no instant communication with love ones as in today with computers and cell phones.  Letters were very important.  Before the trip, each guardian contacted significant others to request letters and cards for their veteran.
This was a secret unknown to the veterans until they were surprised with "'Mail Call" on the trip home.
It was a true surprise and brought both happy smiles and tears as they enjoyed the supportive mail.
Mail Call
 As the trip came to an end and veterans left the plane they were greeted to a welcome of
over 250 people complete with bands, cheers and Thank you's for their service!

This banner was signed by all the veterans making the trip 
 Consider becoming a guardian for a flight-it will be a day you will never forget!

Have you experienced an Honor Flight?

I would love to hear about it...

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