Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Making the Honor Flight happenSubmitted: 09/13/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


WASHINGTON, D.C. - How do you get 91 aging veterans -- 61 of them in wheelchairs -- to Washington D.C. and back in one day? That's what the Honor Flight did Monday.

Newswatch 12's Lyndsey Stemm went along. Today, she takes a look at how this massive project got started, and the people who make it happen.

"They went back to work on their tractors, and in the factories, and the post office and made this country what it is today. So the "greatest generation" is not overrated by any stretch of the imagination. They've earned my undying gratitude," says Mike Thompson, Co-Founder of the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

The "greatest generation"... many of us know them as our fathers; our grandfathers. The Honor Flight began because Washington D.C. finally had a WWII memorial. But many veterans from that war are getting too old to travel easily.

Mike Thompson and Jim Campbell started the Northern Wisconsin chapter. But they knew they were fighting time, so they started big.

"We knew the youngest WWII veteran was 82 years old. So without a nickel to our name we decided we needed $80,000 to fly. And at a sprinters pace we started the marathon to fly in five months," says Mike.

Thirteen trips later nearly 1,200 local veterans have gotten to see the memorials built in their honor. Many of those veterans have substantial health needs. But medical volunteers make it possible for them to go too.

"I've got to watch over these guys. Somehow they got old on us and so some of them aren't doing so well. So I spend a lot of time trying to make sure they're having an OK day. Managing oxygen, managing diabetes, you know, whatever we need to do," says Dr. Ryan Gossett, a volunteer medic who's been on every flight since it began.

It's a long day. It wouldn't happen without the scores of volunteers that help see the group off and welcome them home.

"It's really kind of thrilling to see these vets and the volunteers. I think giving back is very important. So that's why I volunteer, because I didn't go to war. But I'm here because they did," says Ann Lucas, a Volunteer from Wausau.

Many veterans resist going on the trip at first. Some don't feel like they played a big enough role in the war they were in.

"Whether it's the guys that were driving up on the beaches, or the guys delivering mail, they all served a role. And we try to help them appreciate that it's an entire system that needed to exist for the war effort," says Ryan.

Honoring that effort, however big or small, is the point of the honor flight. Anyone who didn't get the "thank you" and the "welcome home" they deserved will finally get one-- even if it is more than 60 years later.

Ryan remembers one vet who didn't even want to go home, "...he finally said, 'You know as soon as I go on that bus, I go back home and I'm the old guy that lives down the street. Today I'm a hero'. So that's what this is all about."

Mike remembers a vet from one of the first flights, "This veteran said, 'You know I got of that air plane and if I live to be 100 years old I'll never forget the sights and the sounds of that night'. He said, 'I feel like I won the war all by myself'."



Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 03/23/2017

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

We'll take you live to Schofield and bring you the latest information on the shooting in that area Wednesday that took the life of a police officer and 3 other people and put several places in the Wausau area on lockdown.

We'll show you how the Merrill Fire Department is honoring the officer who was killed in the shooting incident, and we'll talk to the Oneida County Sheriff about how the county's Special Response Team feels about being able to assist the officers on the scene.

And today was day 9 of the trial for Kristopher Torgerson, the Wausau man who is accused of killing Stephanie Low and burying her body in Forest County. We'll bring you the details of the hearing.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More

MADISON - Cheese may become Wisconsin's official dairy product.

Wisconsin lawmakers want to give cheese the honor after encouragement from some fourth-graders at Mineral Point Elementary School.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAND O' LAKES - Picasso, Van Gough, and even Andy Warhol all had to start somewhere.

This month Land O' Lakes Arts displays local students' artwork in a gallery in honor of Youth Art Month. The gallery holds 112 different art pieces from students ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Northwoods students competed in a financial version of March Madness.

Three high schools came together to compete In the Finance and Investment Challenge Bowl today at Nicolet College.

This was the fifth annual Rhinelander Northwoods Regional Tournament.

The goal of the competition was to increase financial literacy around the state.

+ Read More

Play Video

WABENO - In school classrooms in Wabeno and in the community, the upcoming April 4 referendum is on the mind.

"There is an energy. There is an excitement," said Caroline Lampereur of the Wabeno Home and School Association, which supports the referendum.

Wabeno will ask taxpayers for $1.6 million for each of the next five years to keep its school operating as is.

"We want to maintain all of our operational programs and opportunities that we have for our students, as well as our extracurricular activities," said Wabeno Superintendent Jennifer Vogler.

+ Read More

LONDON - The White House says President Donald Trump has been briefed on a gun-and-knife incident at Britain's Parliament in London.

Trump himself said during a brief appearance Wednesday before reporters at the White House that he was just getting the news. He called it "big news."

+ Read More

PLOVER - Police hope to find a Plover woman who disappeared last week.

Krista M. Sypher, 44, was last seen March 13.  She lives on Hoffman Drive in the Village of Plover.  She did not take her car.

Sypher's cellphone has been off since she disappeared, and she has not contacted family or friends.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here