NCK Honor Flight Travels to Washington DC
The North-Central Kansas Honor Flight made its first trip to Washington DC, on May17-18, 2011. The 54 member group left Concordia on May 16th, with a fantastic send-off from the community of Concordia. The American Legion Riders escorted the bus as it made the trip down main-street on the way out of town. Family and friends lined the streets and waved and displayed American flags as the group passed by. The group traveled to Kansas City and spent the night, in order to get to the airport by 5 am. Each member of the group also received a treat bag from Concordia Elementary students. The bags contained a variety of snacks and were decorated with patriotic designs and contained notes and letters for the Veterans and the Guardians.
The Kansas City airport provided special security for the NCK Honor Flight group, so the screening process went quickly. The Veterans received a warm greeting from other passengers in the airport, as well as the security crew. After the pilot welcomed the group on board and thanked the Veterans for their service to our country, the plane departed for the Baltimore airport at 6:40 am. Once landed in Baltimore, the plane was delayed slightly while waiting on a special gate for arrival. The Veterans were met by a standing ovation and cheers from other travelers, Honor Flight volunteers, and received a most special greeting from a group of men and women from the Naval Academy, and representatives from other branches of the military. USAF Technical Sergeant Larry Moore was one of the military greeters at BWI for your May 17th arrival. He said, “I had a wonderful time giving our veterans a hero’s welcome and spending a few moments with them before they departed on the bus for D.C.”
The NCK Honor Flight group enjoyed a box lunch on the bus ride to Washington DC. The bus driver provided a lot of information about sites that the group could see along the route. Due to a late arrival, the group had to bypass a tour of the White House. CHS Counselor Cyndi Atwell had made connections with CHS graduate Justin Hattan and other White House Security that would have allowed the group into the White House. So, the first official stop on the trip was at the WW II Memorial. The Veterans were able to spend several hours at the Memorial, remembering that they were part of 16 million who served in uniform. The Memorial honors them as well as the more than 400,000 that gave their lives, and millions who supported the war efforts in other ways. The WW II Memorial also reminds future generations that we must sometimes sacrifice for causes greater than ourselves. Construction began on the WW II Memorial in September of 2001 and was dedicated in May of 2004.
The group was greeted by special dignitaries while touring the WW II Memorial. Senator Pat Roberts, Senator Jerry Moran and Former Senator Bob Dole all spent time talking with the NCK Honor Flight Group, and had time to take many photos. Senator Dole was instrumental in seeing the WW II Memorial become a reality. The group felt very honored to have the opportunity to spend time with these VIP’s. (Both Senator Roberts and Senator Moran’s online newsletters contain photos and information about the NCK Honor Flight visit.)
The next stop on the itinerary allowed the group members to tour several memorials. The Washington Memorial and the Mall were visible from this stop. Group members were able to visit the Korean Memorial where they saw 19 stainless-steel statues and a granite wall etched with faces of American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. They climbed the steps to see the Lincoln Memorial, (or rode the elevator). The final site at this stop was the Vietnam Memorial. Many looked up names of soldiers and located them on the wall, containing more than 58,000 names inscribed in chronological order of the date of casualty. This memorial’s wall points to the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Group members also saw the Three Servicemen Statue and Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Some of the Guardians on the trip were Veterans of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and these stops were also extremely meaningful to group members, also.
The United States Marine Memorial was the next stop. This statue was designed from the famous photograph, (Joe Rosenthal) of five Marines and one Navy corpsman raising the American Flag for the battle of Iwo Jima. Just like the greetings at the other sites, the Veterans were thanked by students, teachers, and other people visiting the sites. Many people would stop and shake hands with the Veterans and talk to them about their war experiences. Some Veterans commented that they had not been thanked this many times for their service to our country.
The final stop for the day was at Arlington National Cemetery. The NCK Honor Flight bus received a special escort into the National Cemetery in order to witness the Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns. On the drive through the cemetery, rows and rows of markers reminded the group of the sacred shrine they were visiting. Remains of more than 320,000 servicemen and women, from every war and major conflict in United States history are found in this active cemetery. The group silently observed the ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns and also observed a flag ceremony. The most decorated WW II Soldier, Audie Murphy’s gravesite was located near these proceedings. As the bus drove through the cemetery a group of Guardians walked through and were able to see the Eternal Flame and the Kennedy burial sites.
Day one of the trip wrapped up with a large dinner and the Old Country Buffet. Veterans and Guardians had a chance to enjoy a great meal and to sit and talk with each other about their experiences. After a good night’s rest and a quick breakfast the NCK Honor Flight group was on the road again. The destination on day two was the Holocaust Museum.
Senator Jerry Moran made arrangements for the group to get special admission and a special greeting from the Museum staff. The tour of the Museum was a sobering experience, as many of the Veterans had real-life experience with the things they saw in the photos and exhibits. It was also a reminder about the importance of World War II, and how it continues to impact the world.
The NCK Honor Flight ended its whirlwind tour of Washington DC as they traveled back to the Baltimore airport. Again, they were greeted by friendly security personnel and many National Honor Flight Volunteers who assisted them through the airport and with a special lunch. The group was treated to pie and ice cream for a final treat. After a slight delay in the flight, the group departed for Kansas City. For a final time, the crowd cheered for the Veterans as they stepped off the plane in Kansas City. A few Veterans were even treated to a seat in the cockpit, by the friendly Southwest Airline Staff.
Veterans were delivered home late in the evening, but had a safe and memorable trip. Several WW II Veterans were not able to make the trip, due to health reasons. These Veterans have been placed on the new list for the next trip. No specific date has been set, but we encourage other WW II Veterans to complete an application, so they can take advantage of this opportunity to see their memorials and get the red-carpet treatment. The Honor Flight Program is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s Veterans for all their sacrifices. Top priority is given to the senior Veterans, World War II survivors, along with other Veterans who may be terminally ill.
WW II Veterans: Paul Nelson, Allan VanKooten, Roy Wilson, George Fredrickson, Norman Sicard, Frank Reese, Marvin Johnson, Harvey Olson, Bill Hare, Ted Thoman, Armand Racette, Dave Canfield, Bennie Smith, Arthur Smith, Ken Cailteux, Eldon Cailteux, Bob Wagor, Lee Loring, Myron Reed, Irwin Jacobs, Howard Ellis, Raymond Princ, Floyd Bose, Don Copper, Chet Rumbaugh, Warren Stevens,
Korean Veterans: Eldon George, Don Panter, Jerry Wagor, Myron Cailteux, Ron Cailteux,
Vietnam Veterans: Tim Passmore, Penny Larson
Other Guardians: Cyndi Atwell, Denise Stover, Lyle Pounds, Richelle Luongo, Anna Morrissette, Derick Nordell, Suzanne Carlgren, Audrey Stiles, Stacey Crum, Josh Meyer, George Kisby, Detta Panter, Carla Boyles, Dolores Jacobs, Betty Smith, Dave Canfield, Keri Breeding, Dorothy Loring
Physician: All Honor Flight groups are required to take a physician on the trips. Dr. Jacob Breeding, surgeon at Salina Regional Health Center, greatly appreciated the opportunity to travel with the NCK Honor Flight group. Special thanks to Salina Regional for allowing Dr. Breeding to participate in this program.
Honor Flight Team Leaders: Bev Mortimer, Brian Spencer
Thank you to the many supporters and donors that made this trip possible. An updated list of groups and individuals will be added to this article later next week. NCK HONOR FLIGHT 2011
Tina BrewerConcordia Elementary teacher
Jun 01, 2011
|What a wonderful program. Thank you to all that went with the veterans to make the trip special. Our veterans deserve to be honored! I had tears in my eyes while reading the article. God Bless all our veterans and those currently serving.|
pam kellersalina teacher
Apr 13, 2012
|My soon to be 88 year old father is going to make the trip and I am very excited for him. He is a WW II Veteran. The pictures and write up is awesome! Thanks for Caring Pam|