Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

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

Making the Honor Flight happen
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

Play Video

CRANDON - With wide stretches of crusty white snow in all directions, the Crandon High School baseball and softball fields stand out as two big brown blobs; beautiful in the eyes of Josh Jaeger.

"It makes it look like I'm a genius, that I know exactly how to do all these chemistry experiments to melt snow faster and it's simply just a trick that I stumbled upon." Jaeger said.

The first-year activities director walked around the fields Friday just two days after it was covered in "deep drifts," as Jaeger described it.

+ Read More

MADISON - Researchers examining forests in northern Wisconsin say Native American reservations have older trees and better plant diversity and tree regeneration than surrounding state or national forests.

Wisconsin Public Radio reports that Dartmouth College and University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers recently published their findings in an issue of the Ecology and Society journal. Researchers studied forests on four Native American reservations.

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - A Northwoods group that supports victims of domestic abuse or sexual assault took the time to thank those whose support makes the program possible. HAVEN (Household Abuse Victims Emergency Network) hosted an open house on Friday in Merrill. 

The open house was held in part to celebrate the program's 35th anniversary. It also allowed people who have supported HAVEN over the years to get a tour of the facility and get to know the employees there. 

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Sixty-two-year-old Kenneth Welsh lasted just eight days as a free man before being arrested in Oneida County again.

Welsh is now in Oneida County Jail, accused of making terrorist threats.

Those threats put hospitals in Rhinelander and Tomahawk on lockdown on Thursday.

Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman said Welsh made the threats to a hospice company after they withdrew service from his terminally-ill wife.

+ Read More

ONEIDA COUNTY - A wild deer in Oneida County tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.

The DNR says a deer found in Crescent Township had CWD. 

+ Read More

Play Video

MERRILL - A member of the Merrill School Forest Program received special recognition on Friday. Director Russell Noland earned a LEAF award from Wisconsin's School Forest Program.

Students, parents, and other community members came together to witness the award presentation.

The award honors people that excel in leading learning experiences and activities in forestry.

+ Read More

CANTON, MI - Student across the country walked out of theirs schools today, in part for the Columbine anniversary, but to also protest gun violence.

In Michigan, hundreds of student from three different high schools gathered on a campus football field.

In New York, Students staged a mass "die-in" on the steps of the State Capitol to call for stricter gun control laws.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here