Loading

56°F

56°F

57°F

56°F

57°F

56°F

54°F

60°F

57°F
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: 10/01/2014

- Four Wisconsin State Assembly candidates will debate in Wausau tonight. The two Democrats and Republicans will argue about topics like jobs, healthcare and the direction of the area. We'll have a preview of the debate tonight on Newswatch 12.

- Cranberry Fest draws about 40,000 people to Eagle River each year. Organizers think this year will be no exception. They started preparing for this weekend's festival today. Find out more tonight on Newswatch 12.

- The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will perform tonight in Rhinelander. We caught them earlier today at a special concert for students in Rhinelander. Hear what brought them here and how you can go to their concert tonight.

We'll have the details on this story and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

+ Read More
Man found guilty of murdering parentsSubmitted: 10/01/2014

IRON RIVER, WISCONSIN - An Iron River, Wisconsin man admits to killing his parents last winter.

45 year old Jim Crain Jr. pleaded guilty in Bayfield County to two counts of second-degree intentional homicide.

The state is recommending 15 to 20 years in prison on each count.

Crain was accused of killing his parents, 79 year old James Crain and 76 year old Eunice Crain.

+ Read More
Money wanted for education campaign on voter identificationSubmitted: 10/01/2014

MADISON - People need to know that they must carry photo identification to the polls next month.

The Wisconsin state elections board wants to spend about $460,000 to educate residents over the next five weeks.

The Government Accountability Board wants state Legislature to make money available.

It would be used for an education campaign on television, radio, and the internet.

+ Read More
Virgin Airlines lets some employees have unlimited holiday vacation days, experts say strategy won't work in Northwoods Submitted: 09/30/2014

NORTHWOODS - Unlimited vacation time might sound unrealistic, but Virgin Airlines is letting some of its employees take off whenever they want. Nicolet Staffing thinks that wouldn't work in the Northwoods.

Virgin Airlines got the idea from Netflix. One hundred seventy employees can only take the unlimited days off when they feel that their team is up to date with every project. They also need to make sure their vacation time won't damage the business or their career.

Nicolet Staffing branch manager Robert Erickson says with so many manufacturers in the Northwoods, that system isn't possible.

+ Read More
Man faces charges connected to woman's murder & disapperance; Read the criminal complaintSubmitted: 09/30/2014

Play Video

WAUSAU - A 34-year-old man will face three charges for the 2010 disappearance and murder of a Wausau woman.

Kristopher Torgerson is charged with first degree intentional homicide, armed robbery and hiding a body. Those charges were filed in Marathon County Tuesday, according to online court records.

Stephanie low had been missing since October of 2010. Torgerson agreed to show police where to find low's body earlier this month.

+ Read More
Firefighters practice rescue in sewerSubmitted: 09/30/2014

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Firefighters need to practice rescue techniques so they can stay safe when responding to real emergencies.

Members of the Rhinelander Fire Department spent Tuesday in a sewer to practice rescuing people in a tight space.

Click "play video" to see how and why they do it.

+ Read More
Wisconsin gets record timber sales on state lands; catching up on land management planSubmitted: 09/30/2014

RHINELANDER - Wisconsin made a record amount of money from timber sales on state lands in the most recent fiscal year.

Timber sales totaled $ 11.7 million during the most recent fiscal year. The fiscal year ended in June. DNR Chief Forester Paul DeLong says they fell behind on their land management plan in the early 2000s, so the record sales reflect the fact they're trying to catch up.

"We'll actually come back down slightly looking forward a bit because we will have worked down that backlog," DeLong said.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here