Patriotism runs deep in the Glinsky family.
As an token of appreciation for that patriotism, brothers Edwin, Stephen, Gerald and Raymond were chosen for the Southwest Lone Eagle Program to travel to Washington, D.C., during the Veterans Day weekend.
Edwin was drafted into the Army in 1956, while his brother Stephen joined the Air Force shortly thereafter. Next, Gerald was drafted into the Army. Their youngest brother Raymond decided to get ahead of the draft board and enlisted in the Army in 1966.Their father was also Navy veteran.
Each of the Glinsky brothers, who grew up in Springfield Township, served in a different country doing a different job. Edwin was a radio operator in Germany. Stephen went to language school and became a Russian translator in Germany. Gerald was assigned to tanks and served with an M47 tank unit in Korea near the DMZ. Raymond became an infantry officer and served with the 199th Light Infantry in Vietnam as a platoon commander.
When they heard about the Honor Flight, which provides travel arrangements to aging veterans to go to Washington and see the World War II Memorial and other memorials to Americans military, they decided to apply for it. But the waiting list was long and they were told that it might take four or five years for them to make the trip - and they would probably not go together.
Since their ages ranged from 74 to 84, the chance that health issues might make the trip impossible was a definite possibility.
That was when Gerald's son in Wisconsin, Matthew, got involved. He did some research and found the Southwest Lone Eagle Program also had a program to take veterans to Washington. After talking with the program coordinator and explaining the brother's story, it was decided that their situation was unique and warranted being given special consideration. Arrangements were made and this past Veteran's Day weekend the four brothers flew to Washington, with their sister, Mary Jane, and brother, Patrick, who were not in the military, acting as escorts.
For the brothers it was the trip of a lifetime.
"It was just unbelievable," said Gerald. "They picked up everything for all the veterans and sponsor, we didn't have to spend any money. The respect that they showed to the World War II veterans was especially great. Seeing all the monuments was wonderful. About the only thing that was sad was that at the FDR memorial they left off 'So Help Us God' at the end of his 'Day of Infamy' speech. That was disappointing."
Stephen Glinsky called it a wonderful experience and said they were well-received on the trip.
"We were the last group of the year," he said. "We each had our own garrison cap so we stood out from the other veterans who were there during Veterans Day at the various memorials. Lots of people shook our hands and that was very rewarding.
"I was amazed to go and see Arlington National Cemetery and the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was very moving to watch. And I thought about how we all go transferred out of the country during our time in the service, and now we were all together in Washington. It was just great."
Raymond Glinsky said it was amazing to see all the people in Washington who appreciate veterans.
"You don't realize the number of people who appreciate what you did," said Raymond. "For me, the Vietnam Wall was especially personal. I was able to locate the name of the first man from my platoon who was killed there. It really strikes you when you see the more than 58,000 names on the wall, more so than just seeing a statue. It was really great to be there with my brothers. The Honor Flight did a great job, our hats are off to them. And Southwest Airlines paid for everything , they were outstanding."
The brothers spent a total of three days on the trip. Besides visiting the various sites, all the veterans got a free meal at Golden Corral in honor of Veterans Day, a practice the restaurant has done for a number of years across the country, including the ones in this area. One of the members of the group celebrated his 95 birthday and so they all sang "Happy Birthday" to him at dinner.
For the brothers, it was a great trip to take together and relive their military experiences and see the memorials to the men and women who have served their country.
"People don't realize that what we have in the U.S. is due to those who served in the military," said Raymond. "We are all so lucky to be living in this country."