Yesterday I interviewed a true American Hero. He had just gotten back from Washington D.C. where he was treated like royalty while he visited the many memorials dedicated to men such as himself. The trip would not have been possible without the Honor Flight Network “dedicated to providing veterans with honor and closure.”
Carl served his country on a troop carrying vessel during World War II in the middle of the Pacific. He served his country six years and two of those years were spent on ships at war with the Japanese. His job was to schedule the entire crew for each and every job and follow through to make sure every job was done right. When his vessel was attacked, it was his job to man the #1 gun at the tip of the front bow. He said many times he had to fire the anti-aircraft machine gun to save the lives of himself, his crew and soldiers who had just been dropped off on one of the many Philippine Islands.
The Trip of a Lifetime
Last week, at 97 years old, Carl took the trip of a lifetime. His niece Lori had arranged for his honor flight and accompanied him as his “guardian.” As he waited for his plane to start boarding at the San Francisco International Airport, over 100 people including many school children were on hand to see him and two other veterans off.
“It was quite the honor,” said Carl, a soft-spoken man with a full head of white hair. “The school kids hugged us and took selfies with us. It was wonderful.”
That was just the beginning of his journey and when the veterans arrived at Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C., 300 people greeted them with waving flags, including service personnel who saluted them as they were rolled by in wheelchairs.
The veterans had a private bus to visit all the war memorials around the city. Two police officers on motorcycles provided non-stop travel just like a motorcade for prestigious dignitaries.
Carl said his favorite stop was the United States Naval Memorial where he viewed the names of fallen heroes and a memorial to the ship where he served. As he looked through the scrapbook his niece had put together, he said it was truly a moving experience.
Honor Flight Network
If you have an older loved one who served his country during World War II, the Korean War or the Vietnam War, you can arrange an honor flight for them by starting at Honor Flight Network website. This non-profit organization has flown over 20,000 veterans to see the memorials dedicated to them and give veterans like Carl the thrill of a lifetime.
On the flight back to San Francisco just after boarding the plane, the pilot came back to where Carl was sitting and escorted him up to first class. He addressed the whole plane and said, “Without Carl and men like him, we wouldn’t even be here today.” Two more passengers in first class then gave up their seats to the two other veterans on the plane, so all three heroes could be honored as they deserved.