Loading

71°F

69°F

76°F

72°F

73°F

76°F

74°F

72°F

71°F

74°F

76°F

70°F
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

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Miracles and Wind meet up at ArtStarts latest exhibit.

The two latest exhibits, "Everything is a Miracle" and "Wind", open September 4th at ArtStart in Rhinelander.
Michael Velliquette and Marketa Sivek's art will be featured until November 7th.

Their work strays from the realism of the last two exhibits.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - The potato will be king in Rhinelander this weekend, but Friday, the focus is on fish.

The Rhinelander Café and Pub will be serving its fish fry to start PotatoFest's activities. 

It starts at 5 p.m. 

This is the second year The Rhinelander Café and Pub has served fish fry at PotatoFest.

+ Read More

Play Video

TOMAHAWK - Some school board members in the Northwoods run unopposed, but that could change in Tomahawk.

Ken Schulz is one of the more than 100 community members who want change.

The change could mean there's only seven people on the Tomahawk School Board instead of nine. 
 
Schulz is the former school board president.

+ Read More

RHINELANDER - People don't like to pay for things they don't use and don't own, which makes Rhinelander's discovery all the more tricky.  The city has been plowing a private alley for more than three decades.

The rocky and narrow alley runs between Pearl and Rose Streets near Hodag Park.

The city public works director realized the mistake about two months ago.  The 12 homeowners there own the land, which means every time a Rhinelander plow goes through, it's trespassing.

+ Read More

Play Video

UNITED STATES - Put every kid in a park.

That's the new initiative from President Barack Obama to encourage children and their family's to visit America's national parks.

2016 is the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.

It's trying to get more people in the park.

+ Read More

Play Video

WISCONSIN - Gogebic Taconite will no longer pursue mining in northern Wisconsin. The company scrapped its plans for a huge iron ore mine in Iron and Ashland Counties this spring.

But state Democrats aren't forgetting about the mining issue. They're proposing a bill which they say would close a loophole in the state's 2013 mining law. That law relaxed the permitting process for iron mines.

The Democrats' bill would make it illegal to fill or destroy the bed of a lake, stream, reservoir, or flowage to mine the materials underneath. Bill author Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) said right now, mining could be done legally under flowages and reservoirs.

+ Read More

Play Video

PHILLIPS - Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett wants all city police officers to wear body cameras by the end of next year. He made that proposal this week after tension between police and the public in places like Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Ferguson, Missouri.

One Northwoods police department has been using the cameras for years. Phillips police officers have worn body cameras since 2008. They turn them on while responding to many situations in the city.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 




Click Here