Honor Flight CAK closed out its operation to take World War II veterans to the National World War II Monument in Washington, D.C., with a banquet at the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) Museum.
All good things must come to an end.
And so, on April 20, Honor Flight CAK closed out its operation to take World War II veterans to the National World War II Monument in Washington, D.C., with a banquet at the Military Aviation Preservation Society (MAPS) Museum.
More than 350 veterans, along with spouses and guardians were present for the dinner.
“This has been a wonderful experience,” said Pam Overcatcher, one of the volunteers and guardians who worked with the program. “During this time, I met vets and guardians and made friends. It has been a great experience. It brought so many people together. This afternoon was very exciting. We have lost some of our veterans along the way, but I was overjoyed to see the wonderful experience they were having here at MAPS. The military background here has made it very personal because of the connection with the facility. MAPS has gone all out for us.”
“This was the most inspiring event of my life,” said Megan Miller, guardian and Green High Social Studies teacher. “The history in these men, all that I have learned from them and what they did for our country, I will never forget.”
SEATS OF HONOR
For the veterans themselves the event brought closure to the Honor Flight experience.
Russell Kindig, who flew with the 100th Bomb Group out of England, said “this has been really nice, I have enjoyed myself immensely. Everybody has been really nice. The flight was fun, I enjoyed it. The monument was beautiful.”
Charles Weldon, who served in the European Theater, said he got a little bit of exercise while visiting the monuments, but found the entire experience rewarding.
“This was fine,” Weldon said. “There was a lot of excitement. The tours took a lot of walking and the food was really good.”
“This was quite the thing,” added navy veteran Thom Haralson, who served on a Destroyer Escort in both the Atlantic and Pacific. “I was on the 10th flight and I felt very honored.”
Captain Binford Eubank, who served in the Army Air Force headquarters thought said he was touched by the generosity and planning event volunteers put into the Honor Flights.
“The Honor Flight was wonderful,” Eubank said. “It was a tremendous way for the World War II veterans to see the memorial. It was a tremendous undertaking by the volunteers. It was one of the nicest things that ever happened to me.”
Ohio 27th District Frank LaRose, a veteran himself who has attended numerous events at MAPS said, “this is a job well done by the volunteers. They are to be congratulated for the great work they did for our veterans.”
For those who worked to make Honor Flight a reality, the work was well worth the time and energy.
Page 2 of 2 - “What an honor it has been to be part of such a noble cause,” MAPS Director Kim Kovesci said, “to pay tribute to these men and women who saved the world!”
LABOR OF LOVE
More than 1,100 veterans took part in the Honor Flights which began in 2007 and ended in 2012.
“It was all done with private donations,” said Overcatcher. “None of the volunteers were paid. The flight crews and attendants donated their time, the pilots were all veterans and the attendants had family members in the military. Smuckers and Timken donated money for the flights, along with other private donors. This was a labor of love for all of us. Many of the veterans had medical problems but if they had the heart to go we made sure that they could.”
Valerie Street Kinney, Executive Honor Flight Director, stated in the program “To our Greatest Generation, let me say on behalf of Honor flight CAK, we have been humbled by your loyalty, your sacrifice and your patriotism. You walk among us as silent heroes. Welcome home! It has been an honor to serve you!”
As the veterans filed in, some in wheelchairs or with walkers, some under their own power, music from the World War II era greeted them. As they took their seats, many recognized fellow Honor Flight participants or their guardians. They all looked happy and excited to be a part of this final event that started so long ago in the dark days of World War II when they were so young.
Their courage and sacrifice saved the world from the tyranny of evil oppressors. They indeed earned the title bestowed on them by Tom Brokaw, “The Greatest Generation.”