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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Program pays respect to veterans in a unique way

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

This story will begin with a trip down memory lane. It begins back in 1941. Yes, that is when FDR was president of the United States. The country hadn't recovered from the Great Depression and our country was really hurting.

And then arrived the day of Dec. 7, l941, and our country was to be forever changed. It was a day that will live in infamy forever. We were attacked by Japan on Pearl Harbor. Immediately young men from all over the United States began enlisting in all branches of service. They really were just boys, but when it was all over they came home men.

Many (hundreds of thousands) never came home. Many came home wounded and their lives would never be the same. Many were wounded so badly and became invalids.

But they all loved their country and were willing to fight and die for it. Everyone that joined the service became heroes. They died for what they believed in, the United States of America and our freedom.

Now, fast forward to May 7, 2012. This is where our story really begins.

Now it is many years later and those young men are now seniors and they are now old warriors. I would like to tell those of you who may not be familiar with the Never Forgotten Honor Flight a little bit about it.

I think over 40 states are now participating in this most wonderful endeavor and adventure. The mission of the Never Forgotten Honor Flight is to provide a special kind of honor for the sacrifice of American Veterans. We fly our heroes to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials. Top priority is given to senior veterans, World War II survivors. The veterans do not have to pay for this activity. Everything is absolutely free.

Wisconsin is an affiliate of the Honor Flight Network. A group which began operation in 2005. Wisconsin started in 2010 and just finished flying the last of the World War II veterans to D.C. and have begun on the Korean veterans.

They do four flights a year, and each trip usually has around 90 veterans. They have what they call guardians who are assigned to each veteran. Guardians assist the veterans by wheeling their wheelchairs and helping them with whatever way they can.

The guardians have to pay $500 for the privilege of making the flight. Everyone associated with the flight is volunteers. They have doctors in attendance, medics and nurses. The whole operation is a tremendous undertaking.

The flight alone costs over $85,000. Everything is donated through donations from companies, businesses and private individuals. Money is also raised through fund raisers.

Bob signed up for the flight; he was in the service during the Korean War. Bob and another veteran from the American Legion Post 153 in Pittsville and also another veteran who now lives in Marshfield were accepted to go on the flight on May 7.

Ninety had signed up, but the final count of veterans was 84.

Howard Johnson hotels donates rooms to all of the veterans and their wives. We happened to get a suite. I don't think I had ever stayed in a suite before. This particular hub is quartered in Wausau, Wis.

We rode to Wausau with the other veteran and his wife from Pittsville. We arrived in Wausau at the Howard Johnsons about 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Everyone had to get registered and ready for a banquet to be held about 6 p.m.

As the veterans registered, they received a yellow rain and shine jacket, an orange T shirt, a "goodie" bag with a throw a way camera in it plus a fanny pack, a ball cap and a lovely book of Washington, D.C.

To be continued-

Marilyn Miller
The Old Grey Mare