Monday, October 28, 2013

Honor Flight for My Hero

There were a few events during my health-induced hiatus recently that I really wanted to share with you, so I'm going to do a few time-delayed posts.

In August, it was my privilege to arrange for my dad to go on a veterans Honor Flight.

Dad enlisted in the Army in 1943, when he was 18, to serve his country in World War II. He served in what was then the Army Air Corp, doing most of his tour on islands in the South Pacific, fighting the Japanese.

 It certainly wasn't where he wanted to spend three years of his life. Certainly not the first three years of his marriage. But the world was at war.   
Mom and Dad - 1943
For most of us, WWII is ancient history.  But it is the last war that threatened our very existence as a nation and it's most fitting that the generation who fought that war are called the "Greatest Generation".

If you're not familiar with the Honor Flight, it's a volunteer organization that honors America's veterans by transporting them to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.  Preference is given to World War II veterans because, sadly, we are losing these heroes at a rate of 640 a day.

Honor Flight not only transports our heroes, but at each stop the veterans are greeted by active duty military and volunteers who give them the heroes' welcome they deserve. 

The group leaving Dayton, already friends.

Best of all, when they return that evening, we get to give them the biggest welcome of all. Friends, family, color guards, military, and volunteers. Dad knew my husband and I would be there to pick him up but he didn't know about any of the others...especially my brother Frank who drove in from out of state to be there. Frank said he'll never forget the joy he felt seeing Mom and Dad waiting for him when he got home from Viet Nam and it was his turn. He and I made the sign and were holding it together when Dad saw us. The look on Dad's face was priceless.

Dad with some of the family at the airport.

The day after, before Dad headed home, we had a family cookout so he had a chance to tell us about the trip. Here he is with some of the family gathered around.

I am so grateful to Honor Flight for what they do. If you have a veteran in your family, especially from WWII or Korea, please arrange for him or her to go on an Honor Flight. Do it now. You'll be so glad you did.

Quote of the Day:

“Freedom is never free.” ~ Unknown


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

What a wonderful thing to do for WWII veterans! And glad your whole family was able to surprise your father.

Karen Walker said...

I wish I'd known about this while my Dad was still alive. It is such a wonderful way to honor those who fought that war for our freedom.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My dad passed away before they built the WWII memorial in DC. I wish I could have visited it with him. He also served in the Pacific and then in Japan near the bomb sites. He had cancer twice and didn't beat it the last time. I always wondered if his illness was related to his time in Japan.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

My dad passed away before they built the WWII memorial in DC. I wish I could have visited it with him. He also served in the Pacific and then in Japan near the bomb sites. He had cancer twice and didn't beat it the last time. I always wondered if his illness was related to his time in Japan.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

What a beautiful way to honor veterans. My father was one year younger than yours and served in the Navy in the same area. Shame he never lived to see the memorial.

Mark Koopmans said...

Hey LD,

Please thank your Dad and your brother, Frank, for their service to this wonderful country.

It's their sacrifices that allow the rest of us to enjoy the freedoms we have.

Thanks also for sharing about the Honor Flight :)

Maria Zannini said...

I'll bet your dad is still grinning. I'm so glad you got to do this for him.

LD Masterson said...

Alex - Thanks, it was pretty special.

Karen - I'm sorry your Dad didn't get to go.

Susan - Perhaps you should go in his memory.

Diane - I'm so blessed that my dad is still here and in good health.

Karen, Susan, and Diana - Honor Flight will accept (on loan) a photo of a WWII veteran who is no longer with us and take a picture of the photo with a folded flag in front of the memorial as a keepsake for the family.

Mark - Thank you for the kind words. And you're welcome.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - Oops, I hit the publish button too soon on my last bunch of responses. Yeah, it was a wonderful weekend all around.

Carol Kilgore said...

This entire post was an "Aw" moment. It made me tear up.

Emilyann Girdner said...

Thank you for taking the time to share this with us. What a special way to honor heroes in our country. Thank you to your father and Frank for their service.

Also, I wanted to let you know I gave you a blog award:

Lexa Cain said...

That is such a beautiful post, L.D. I believe that the military men of WWII sacrificed more than any other generation, and the stakes were far higher if they failed. They are the truest American heroes and deserve to know how much we love them and are grateful for their service. The Honor Flight is brilliant, and I'm so glad your father got to go.

Julie Dao said...

This was a lovely tribute to your dad and to all of the people who have fought so bravely for their country. What a sacrifice from these true heroes.

Julie Flanders said...

What a wonderful thing. My dad was also a WWII vet and visited Europe for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in the 90s. It was such an emotional thing for him and I know he would have loved to do one of these Honor Flights as well. Your dad must have been so touched by the experience.

Hope the Red Sox get the one last win they need! :D

Julie Luek said...

Oh I loved this post! What a great story to share with us about your family's celebration and honor of your dad. What a lovely gift to share together.

LD Masterson said...

Carol - Aw, thanks.

Emilyann - Why, thank you. I'll be over.

Lexa - Um, and let's not forget the ladies. Both those who served in the military and those who, like my mom, worked in the defense plants keeping the war effort going at home.

Julie D. - Then and now, they all deserve our thanks.

Julie F. - That D-Day Anniversary had to have been special. My dad's family came from England and my grandmother was sure one of the three who served in WWII would be stationed there. Nope - all three went to the Pacific. (And GO SOX!!)

Julie L. - Thanks. It truly was.

mshatch said...

My dad served, too, in the Navy - along with his brother and father. We have a great pic of all three of them in their uniforms - so young!

What a special day for your dad and how wonderful so many family members were there to honor the anniversary.

Emily R. King said...

Aw! I teared up! What a lovely day for everyone, especially your dad. And those pictures are beautiful! Thanks for sharing, LD.

Maryann Miller said...

What a terrific thing Honor Flight is, and thanks so much for sharing about your father and your family. I came over today to check out the Hump Day Funnies post, but I guess I was too early. So glad I got to read this one.

LD Masterson said...

mshatch - My dad, my uncles, and my brother all served, and my husband was a 20 year man in the Air Force. But when neither of my sons were interested in the military, I'll admit I was relieved.

Emily - Thanks for visiting.

Maryann - I was late with my hump day post. Sorry. It's up now.

Mike Keyton said...

That is a beautiful story. I hope to respond with a story of my own some day. I think the military in both our countries have an innate sense of what's right.