2012 NCK Honor Flight
(Click on each of these photos to access an album of pictures from the trip.)
A group of family and community supporters were at the CJSHS parking lot on May 28, 2012 to give the NCK Honor Flight a send-off, for the trip to Washington DC, to take Veterans to visit their memorials. After a last minute bus change due to an air-conditioning problem, the bus made its way to Kansas City, making a few stops to pick up additional passengers. The group members were provided decorated treat bags containing snacks and notes from CES school students, to enjoy on the long bus ride. Each Veteran also wore a name tag, with lanyards from their branch of the military. The group left Kansas City on May 29th, on an early flight to begin the journey. Southwest Airlines gave special priority to the Honor Flight group, providing a special check-in line, and treated them like VIP’s as they went through security screeening. The group also had the pleasure to talk with a group of middle school students from Trenton, MO, while waiting in the airport for the plan to depart. Many, many groups and individuals stopped to shake hands and thank the Veterans for their service. This was a common occurrence throughout the duration of the trip. After a fairly smooth flight over some storms, the Veterans exited the airplane to discover a cheering crowd in Baltimore. After a brief welcome reception, the group boarded a charter bus to start the official visit. The bus driver provided information about all of the sites during the two day visit, as the group travel through Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia.
The first stop was the U.S. Capitol for a guided tour, arranged by Senator Jerry Moran. The group also received special passes to visit the Senate and House Galleries from Senator Pat Roberts and Representative Tim Hueslkamp. Due to time constraints the group did not get to visit the House Gallery. As the group walked through the Capitol sporting their Honor Flight t-shirts, crowds stopped what they were doing to salute and applaud the Veterans.
The second stop was the WW II Memorial, which honors the Veterans and serves as a reminder that they were part of 16 million who served in uniform during that war. More than 400,000 gave their lives and millions of others sacrificed for a cause greater than themselves. Most of the Veterans on the trip were WW II Veterans, and a few were Korean. Each Veteran was escorted by one Guardian, arranged to help them in any way possible. The Guardians also spent a lot of time talking with the Veterans to hear their life stories. The Guardians appreciated learning about the wars and other experiences, first-hand from their Veterans. One Veteran served as a doctor on a destroyer that was sunk by a torpedo. He told of floating in the water for eight hours while waiting on a rescue. Another Veteran remembers an exchange of gunfire and finding a bullet lodged between his helmet and his head. One Veteran remembers the Battle of the Bulge. Others recalled the food and clothing, or shortage of both; and they reminisced about the places they were stationed. The group was free to walk around and tour the WW II Memorial, after a group photo was taken. The NCK Honor Flight was greeted by an aide from Senator Moran’s office, since he was back in Kansas.
The burial flag of Hal D. Byarlay, Lincoln, was transported by the NCK Honor Flight to the WW II Memorial. Mr. Byarlay served as an aerial gunner on a B-17 bomber during the war. He was scheduled to make the trip with the group, but passed away on April 14, 2012. His flag was placed on the Kansas pillar and respects paid to his memory.
After the WW II Memorial, the group visited the Marine Corps War Memorial, known as the Iwo Jima. The 32 foot high statue, with a 60 foot flagpole and flag, depicts the recapturing of the island of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. One of the Veterans recalled being part of the efforts to recaputure the island. The site also provides a view of the Capitol and the Washington Monument.
The NCK Honor Flight received special permission to drive the charter bus onto the grounds of Arlington Cemetery. The drive through the cemetery was quiet, as the group members looked across the vast acres of more than 300,000 stones representing military personnel buried in Arlington. The Veterans had a short walk to witness the ceremony of the Changing of the Guards. Trip organizers also had a special ceremony arranged for the NCK Honor Flight group. Four Veterans were selected to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Lee Doyen, Concordia; Francis Lyne, Miltonvale; David Jones, Clyde; and DeMerle Eckart, Minneapolis were selected to represent the NCK Honor Flight. They were given special shirts for the ceremony and were assisted by official Guards to place the wreath at the Tomb. Taps was played as the crowd witnessed this emotional and moving ceremony.
The group then ate a buffet dinner and retired for the day at a downtown Washington D.C. Hotel. Another special surprise awaited the Veterans as they waited to be checked into the hotel; a mail call. Each Veteran received a brown paper-wrapped package that contained letters and notes from family, friends and/or school students. Some family members sent cards to be included in the mail call, CMS 5th graders wrote personalized letters, and two classes from Minneapolis Grade School sent letters for the Veterans.
The pace for the second day didn’t slow down, as the group started with a 9 am tour of the White House. CJSHS Counselor Cyndi Atwell worked closely and tirelessly with Justin Hattan, CHS Alum, to get security clearance for the NCK Honor Flight to be able to have this tour. Justin also walked with the group through the White House. Our Veterans recalled the many Presidents who have served the country as they walked the hallways and viewed the rooms.
The group then traveled to the Air Force Memorial on the grounds of Ft. Meyer. Three memorial stainless steel spires ranging up to 270 feet high evoke the image of contrails of the Air Force Thunderbirds as they execute a precision “bomb burst” maneuver. The view from this Memorial includes many of the memorials, and also the Pentagon. Group members reflected on the tragedy at the Pentagon as they remembered the day the plane hitting the building. The only evidence now is the different shades of stone used to repair the Pentagon, and the new memorial site. The group enjoyed lunch at the Air Force Memorial, while looking over the city.
The next stop was near the Vietnam, Lincoln and Korean Memorials. NCK Honor Flight participants were able to walk around the area and visit each of these sites. Many members of the group used the directory to find the names of loved ones on the Vietnam Wall, among the 48,000 names inscribed in chronological order of the day of casualty. Group members were very impressed with the Korean Memorial, with the photographs of faces etched in the wall and with the nineteen life-like sculptures of the soldiers. Several of the NCK Honor Flight Veterans served in multiple conflicts, and a few served in WW II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
With a little extra time to spare, the group also got to visit the Navy Memorial. The Navy Memorial honors those who have served or are currently serving in the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine. Pools of salted water from the Seven Seas and the Great Lakes are also part of this memorial. This was a great extra benefit since eleven of the Veterans were Navy. Many pictures were taken at each stop, some tears were shed as the Veterans remembered their experiences while the Guardians did their best to treat all of the Veterans like the heroes they are.
The group was treated to a turkey dinner with special reserved seating at the Baltimore Airport before boarding the flight back to Kansas City, after a delay for a light problem. The group arrived back home very late, but had a very memorable trip.
The NCK Honor Flight, an activity group under USD 333, raises money each year to support the Veteran trip. Concordia High School students and other community Guardians accompany the Veterans to provide assistance, honor the Veterans, and to learn history about the Veterans and these wars and time periods. 2012 Guardians included eight CHS students: Ashlynn Lambert, Drew Knapp, Trent Tholstrup, Aren Coppoc, Megan Frost, David Strait, Micah Fabarez and Katie Lambert. These students had time to reflect about how their lives are much different than the lives of these men when they were 17 or 18. They realized that many of these men were already fighting in a world war at the same age. They also had the chance to reflect on how their lives would have been different had the outcome of this war been different.
MANY community and area businesses/organizations and individuals are responsible for assisting with the fund-raising effort to support this program. The NCK Honor Flight currently has two WW II Veterans on the waiting list for the next trip. If you know of other area WW II Veterans who have not made this trip please contact the NCK Honor Flight Team Leader, Bev Mortimer, at 785-243-3518. Also, we welcome donations and fund-raising opportunities in area communities to help support the NCK Honor Flight. The NCK Honor Flight is also accepting donations for the next benefit auction, next fall. We are also accepting used wheelchairs, as we must transport approximately 20 wheelchairs on this trip. Currently, we borrow those from four local entities and do appreciate that assistance. We could not take this trip without the numerous sponsors and supporters.
The NCK Honor Flight is an official hub of the National Honor Flight in Springfield, OH. The Honor Flight organization is non-profit and pays tribute to the Veterans of our country by taking them to visit their memorials in Washington DC, at no cost to the Veterans. More information about the national organization can be found at www.honorflight.org, and additional information about the NCK Honor Flight can be found at www.usd333.com, and clicking on the North Central Kansas Honor Flight tab along the left side of the page.
Concordia: Gene Leon, Ross Doyen, Lee Doyen, Bo Johnston
Glasco: Paul Nelson
Miltonvale: Francis Lyne
Delphos: CJ Ballou
Minneapolis: DeMerle Eckart, Carroll Righter, Bob Breen
Clyde: David Jones, Harold Elsasser, Bob Smith
Clifton: Dale Barnes
Lincoln: Lee Modrow
Washington: Frank Henderson
Belleville: Al Havel, Doug Coleman, Tom Walker, Willis Beneda
Red Cloud, NE: Harry Sprague
Lindsborg: Pip Nelson
Prairie Village: Laurie Russell
Kensington: Howard Grauerholz
Smith Center: Louis Overmiller
Athol: Art Kuhlmann
Logan: Keith Grammon
CHS Students: Ashlynn Lambert, Drew Knapp, Trent Tholstrup, Aren Coppoc, Megan Frost, David Strait, Micah Fabarez and Katie Lambert
USD 333 Staff: Cyndi Atwell, Denise Stover, Gene Rundus, Brandon Rice, Ryan Mortimer, Chuck Knapp
Community Members: Toby Nosker, Kayleen Lewis, Josh Meyer, Larry Eubanks
Physician: Dr. Jake Breeding, Salina
Other Guardians: Keri Breeding, Salina; Melba Kuhlmann, Athol; Christine Beneda, Oregon, Jason Walker, Massachusetts; Stuart Russell, Wheaton, IL,; Vesta Lyne, Miltonvale; Bob Righter, California;
NCK Honor Flight Team Leader: Beverly Mortimer
|Jon Puckett firstname.lastname@example.org Miltonvale, Ks||
Jun 14, 2012
|As a member of ABATE district 9 I feel very proud to have had a small part in making this trip happen. It is one of the best programs that I know of. These men deserve such an opportunity and the time is growing shorter by the day. I hope that we can continue to be a part of this effort for a long time to come. A hearty salute to all our veterans.--Jon|