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The Suburbanite
  • Final touchdown for Akron-Canton Airport Honor Flights

  • Hundreds showed up at Akron-Canton Airport on Saturday night to greet the 104 World War II veterans who made the last Honor Flight CAK to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other monuments.

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  • Hundreds showed up at Akron-Canton Airport on Saturday night to greet the 104 World War II veterans who made the last Honor Flight CAK to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other monuments.
    “It was a memorable trip,” said Navy veteran Walter Callihan of Uniontown, while waiting for his guardian to take him through the airport.
    Knowing it was the final flight from Akron Canton, the 85-year-old said, “I was certainly glad to get on this flight. I met a lot of nice fellows.”
    Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization created to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. Veterans are transported to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at military memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans — World War II survivors, along with other veterans who may be terminally ill. The flights are free, paid for by contributions from individuals and businesses.
    The flights left a legacy of caring and respect for World War II veterans. Since 2008, more than 1,100 veterans have made the trip from the Akron-Canton Airport, according to Valerie Street Kinney of Jackson Township, who has headed the local program.
    Saturday’s trip was the last from the local airport because, she said, the end of the waiting list has been reached.
    “Thank God I lived to be 88 and was able to go on this trip,” said Eugene Kay, of Plain Township, a Navy veteran. “I tried to go in May, but I am on oxygen and couldn’t go.”
    His guardian, Valerie Turner, explained that the flight can take only three veterans on oxygen at a time, and they already had their quota on the earlier flight.
    “I am justs so glad I got on today’s flight,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
    Among the veterans, families and friends waiting at the airport for the plane to arrive was Ralph Greer, of Amsterdam, Ohio, who took the flight two years ago.
    “It is something you never forget,” he said. “It is a really great thing they (Honor Flight) do.”
    Another Navy veteran, Francis Elmerick of North Canton, who was there waiting for his friend, Joe DeLuca of Wooster, said he was looking forward to talking with DeLuca upon his return.
    “He finally signed up for it,” said Elmerick, noting he tried many times to get his friend on the plane.
    Upon their return, Smucker’s gave each of the veterans a gift bag containing peanut butter and jelly, a hat and coffee to welcome them home. Each also received a flag in addition to many, many handshakes and thank-yous for their service many years ago.

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