Our office enjoys supporting veterans and ensuring they are acknowledged for the sacrifices they made. One of the ways we choose to give back is by partnering with Honor Flights as they transport vets to our nation’s capital to visit memorials erected in their honor. Below are accounts from Honor Flights from the perspective of staff members who accompany a vet as they tour War Memorials in Washington, D.C.
From Jennifer Mitchell (pictured with Ed):
I first met Ed at the orientation for the Honor Flight, where I quickly found out that he has some difficulty communicating because of hearing loss. Regardless of his hearing he had an over the top personality and we immediately clicked. He explained that his hearing loss is from his time in service for our country. Ed was in the US Navy in the early 1950’s and a Korean War veteran. Ed joined the Navy just prior to the beginning of the Korean War. He served as a Petty Officer 3rd Class on the USS Shelikof which is where he lost his hearing being down in the bottom of the ship doing his work, stripping and painting the walls of the ship. He also did communications which he was chosen for initially because of his, “perfect” hearing! He laughs about to this today, saying that the Navy took his best feature but it was all worth it.
We met early at the airport and were treated with breakfast and a special gathering before our flight departed for Washington D.C. Upon our landing at the Baltimore Airport we were greeted with a water cannon salute from the local fire department. Everywhere we went the veterans were thanked that day. The Police Department escorted us from Baltimore to Washington D.C. which really blew us away, Ed could not believe how we zoomed through traffic like royalty. During the tour of our Nation’s Capital, we visited the Air Force Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the WWII Memorial. A special moment included a Flemish family who approached Ed to thank him. We all had a nice conversation and it was a lovely moment to see them interacting and Ed being honored once again. On the flight home Ed received a package full of thank you tokens and cards. Our welcome home was a big one! There were hundreds folks who came out to give the proper welcome home to our veterans.
I am thankful for the honor to be included in the honoring of a fellow veteran who has forever inspired me to always live life to the fullest.
From Amanda Springer (pictured with Bob):
The honor flight was a powerful experience. Bob and I had a lot of fun visiting the memorials and some good laughs. The veterans were made to feel like royalty, and I think that was something that most of them enjoyed. I think the most fun and intense part of the trip was reliving Bob’s story. He is a very modest man, and he doesn’t really like being the center of attention. We talked about his service, his family, and just life in general. By the way, he doesn’t suggest jumping out of a perfectly good airplane, he did it once and that was once more than he would have liked.
The importance of the honor flight is to remember that the wars of our past are not just stories. There were real men and women out there, on the front lines, fighting and dying. As Bob told me, “There is nothing romantic about war. When the bullets are flying and people are getting hurt there’s no romance.” I think that the least we can do is remember that these men and women truly made sacrifices for us. Though, the honor flight in no way can repay them for the things they endured during their service, it can show them that their sacrifices were not forgotten and neither are they.
On mission 35, I made some once in a life time memories, but most importantly I made a new friend. Bob and I have continued to keep in touch.
Learn more about Honor Flights here.