“I wish I could thank all of you personally, but knowing that is impossible, I”ll have to settle for this card. I was on your 12-Sept-09 flight and enjoyed it very much. It will be remembered with great joy. Thanks again and I wish you all a long and happy life”. Semper Fi John P.- WWII veteran John you just thanked all the volunteers!
“Words cannot express how very much I appreciated the opportunity to spend such a great day with so may honorable and gracious people. I am in awe of the great generation.” Suzanne- guardian
“I would like to extend my thanks to all those in association with the 12-Sept-09 Honor Flight trip. …… Also, in attendance was my son, a Vietnam veteran, as a guardian. Sharing this experience with my son also gave me added enjoyment. I value the memories that we will always share. As a WWII veterans of the USS Latimer APA 152, I am thankful for the honor and support bestowed upon all the veterans in attendance. I was especially moved by the crowds of hundreds of people gathered at the beginning and end of the day to show their appreciation for our service. I remember a baby girl, just able to stand by her parents, smiling and I was compelled to leaned down to giver her a kiss on the forehead. The honor I felt in that moment I will remember forever. I am so grateful for the Honor Flight CAK trip and the honor you all give to the many veterans in our US. Thank you and God Bless!” Elmer W.- WWII veteran
“There is only one way to say it: Thank you for your efforts and long hours to make the Honor Flight CAK so successful and enjoyable for WWII veterans. Sept. 12 was a wonderful experience for me. I was especially moved by the delightful letters from children (and a homemade card from a 2nd grader); I have responded to them all.” Ralph L.- WWII veteran
For Sept. 24, 2009
An Honor to be on the Honor Flight
By Bruce Stambaugh- Guardian
“Courtesy of The Holmes County Journal.”
At first, I didn’t want to go.
My father, age 89, frail and struggling with the consequences of his cancer, had received an invitation to fly to Washington, D.C. on something called Honor Flight. Dad was ecstatic. He knew he had been low on the long waiting list.
But given Dad’s situation, his Veteran’s Administration doctor, bless her heart, pulled some strings and Dad got on the flight.
Honor Flight is a program in 28 states that flies World War II veterans to the nation’s capital for a day to visit various monuments. I had never heard of it until my father told me about it.
All Honor Flight veterans are required to have a guardian accompany them, regardless of their physical condition. With the World War II veterans in their 80s and 90s, that only makes sense.
I deferred the opportunity to go with Dad to my older brother, who lives out of state. Then my phone rang.
It was Honor Flight, again, calling to say that they had an opening on the flight, and wouldn’t I want to go along, too? Life doesn’t offer many second chances. I instantly recognized this as one of them, and I took it.
I was designated the guardian for my father, while my brother had two rather spry and able-bodied vets to oversee.
The centerpiece of the trip of course is the World War II Memorial. The point of the Honor Flight project is to get as many of these grizzled vets there as possible.
The non-profit organization operates solely on donations with a staff of volunteers. A local foundation paid the vets’ way for this flight.
I realized it would be a grueling day. Up at 3:30 a.m. Get Dad at 4:30. Arrive at the airport at 5:30. Check in, navigate the personally invasive security, then sit around and wait to board the 8 a.m. flight.
The vets took it in stride. “Hurry up and wait,” they said, just like old times.
I also figured this would be a glorious day, especially for the aging vets. I just didn’t know how splendid it would be.
The vets knew how fortunate they were to be on board, and they were determined to enjoy the day no matter what. Indeed, they found joy at every turn.
As we approached the gate in Washington, D.C., airport fire engines gave them a diplomatic salute by arching water over the plane. At the gate, a concert band played patriotic music while hundreds of people clapped, shouted and heartily welcomed this special cargo.
Motorcycle cops, lights flashing and sirens sounding, guided the buses through the heavy traffic both to and from the airport. The old sailors, soldiers and marines couldn’t help but feel important, appreciated and loved.
The vets found all the memorials they visited, World War II, Iwo Jima, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Korea, Vietnam and Lincoln, inspiring. They found the thoughtful respect of complete strangers who stepped forward to offer their gratitude overwhelming.
Back home, emotions ran even higher. As the Honor Flight entourage exited the airport behind a bagpiper, yet another throng shouted, waved, smiled and saluted. Dry eyes were hard to find.
When Dad and I returned to his assisted living home well after 10 p.m., Mom was sitting in her usual chair patiently waiting on Dad and I to return. She was proud as punch that she had stayed up late to greet us.
The Honor Flight was for my father and the other 115 vets. But really, having had a second chance to participate, the honor was all mine.
“There is no way I can thank you beautiful people enough for the Washington trip. The reception in Washington brought tears to my eyes. I would like to thank my Bus Captains and my Guardian. When I returned home after 36 months in the Pacific jungle I got a cookie and glass of milk. Thanks for making me one of the Honor Guards.” 91 yrs old Mr. James T.- WWII veteran
“I would like to thank you , Timken Foundation and the rest of your organization for sponsoring the Honor Flight. I would also like to thank guardian Ralph B. for his kindness and looking out for all our needs. The reception we received at the Washington and Akron Canton Airports were overwhelming. I will remember and be grateful for the rest of my life.” William V.-WWII veteran
“What an absolutely fabulous day!! September 12 was managed beautifully–did not see one single miss-step. With such perfection it is obvious you girls love your job. I had no idea what to expect-thought I might feel out of place, but that didn’t happen-it was fun and all the Veterans I talked to were very anxious to share their memories and thanks to you, I now have a great new one. My thanks to Troy”. Jeanette J.-WWII veteran
“…I very seldom get tears in my eyes but the reception in Washington DC did it. I couldn’t believe how many people wanted to shake my hand and stand around and talk about how brave we were. The WWII Monument was a wonderful site to see as well as the other Monuments. I enjoyed every minute in Washington and I couldn’t believe I got a seat in the first row of first class section. I got tears in my eyes again as we passed through the crowd in the terminal and I will never forget it.” John R.- WWII veteran
“As the wife of a WWII veteran, Charles J., I thank you, your board members and the many volunteer guardians fro making this day so special and memorable for my husband. He enjoyed the entire day and was overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who thanks him for his service”. Donna J.-wife of WWII veteran
“Will you please extend my thank yous to all the folks who made our WWII vets’ trip to Washington so successful. It was a fabulous experience, and I truly enjoyed every moment”. Art F.-WWII veteran
“The Honor Flight on Sept. 12 was a wonderful experience. It was very well planned. Diane and Troy were super hosts on the bus. Thanks to everybody that were involved in any way to make the flight possible.” John N.- WWII veteran
“A note the say Thanks for a lovely trip. It was so well organized and everything went off like clock work. His guardian was like a guiding like, she made him feel welcome!” Eddie and Margaret T.-WWII veteran and wife
“….I was impressed with the efficiency of the whole day. You are a genius. Then this kid Kyle, he has a super mother. I lucked out by getting Tom S. as a guardian. You are probably a little bit better , but Karen and Tom were perfect”. Charles J. – WWII veteran
“I want to express my appreciation for all your help getting me on the Honor Flight. It meant so much”. Ora H.- WWII veteran
“I want to thank you and all the persons who give of their time to the organization, also the Timken Foundation. It was a day that I will cherish for the rest of my life. The organization of every part of the trip was exceptional. The reception we received at the Reagan National Airport was outstanding and I shed many a tear. The guardian, my friend, Paul and I had, Sherry W. was exceptional and made the trip more special. Seeing the memorials with fellow veterans added to the experience, more especially the WWII and the Korean memorial. I served during WWII in the south pacific also during the Korean Was. Upon returning to CAK our reception was again outstanding with more tears shed. this was the first time I felt as if the people cared what the Vets had done.” Morgan H.- WWII veteran