In June of 2015 I printed out the paperwork for my Dad to go on the Honor Flight. He was reluctant because he doesn’t like to fly. My Mother was instrumental in talking him into going. The paperwork was submitted. He didn’t make it on the October 2015 flight but was notified that he would be on the next flight.
The Honor Flight idea began when Earl Morse a Physicians Assistant in Ohio saw that his WWII Veterans were not seeing their memorial. He started flying them himsef in 2005, he and his pilot friends personally transported 137 Vets to their memorial. Jeff Miller had a bigger vision of commercial planes filled with Veterans and The Honor Flight Network was born.
The WDAY Honor Flight is part of that network. Since May of 2007 there have been 5 trips that took 718 Vets and 537 escorts to Washington DC from Fargo North Dakota. The sixth trip May 2016 was the one my Dad and Brother were on and there were 94 Veterans. Each trip costs $150,000. Escorts pay $750. The Veteran pays nothing. Food, lodging and transportation are included.
The plane left from Fargo ND Hector International Airport on Sunday morning May 22 2016 and arrived in Washington DC to rain.
On the flight they were given letters of gratitude from family members and friends. Dad got ten letters. (He didn’t get mine because I entered an incorrect email address, but I gave it to Dad when he got back home.)
There was a Brass Band and many groups of people to meet them at the airport. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Veteran’s Groups…they were welcomed like the Heros they are!
They toured Arlington National Cemetery.
Dad said “There were so many grave markers, when they came next to a tree they just skipped over to where the next marker could be. It was awesome.”
My Dad and my other baby brother Jody.
They are at the tomb of The Unknown Soldier. Can you see the path worn into the stone…
My baby brother Carey has one son who lives very near Washington DC and another who lives in New Jersey. They met my Dad on the rainy Sunday afternoon.
Jody, Jena with Collins, Ben with Presley, Dad and Kirk. I believe Christine took this photo, she is my baby brother Carey’s sister in law.
They didn’t have a long visit but the boys got to see their Grandpa and their Uncle Jody, and the little girls got to see their Great Grandpa and Great Uncle.
The flag raising at Iwo Jima.
Dad said they drove around in the busses, the rain continued and everyone was getting wet and cold. They went back to their hotel and attended a banquet.
All photos were taken by my other baby brother Jody. He was a great escort for my Dad…he is big and strong and can push a wheelchair uphill! I could have gone but I passed the honor to my brother who is younger and stronger than me. The escort must be able to handle all the carry on baggage and a wheelchair.
The Wheel Chairs were donated by Sanford Health. My Dad is able to walk with a cane, but a wheel chair just makes it more comfortable and a bit faster for some of the old guys. There were a couple of Veterans on the trip who are wheel chair bound and they rode in a van with a wheel chair lift. There was a medical team of Doctors and Nurses that went along. They had four large tour busses and a Police Escort that cleared traffic for them.
The next day the sun came out for the Veterans. More on Day Two tomorrow.