WASHINGTON D.C. - The Never Forgotten Honor Flight can celebrate after reaching the 2000th person milestone for the number of veterans they've flown to Washington D.C.
The group flew its 2004th veteran to Washington D.C. on the 22nd flight last Monday. It's a strong achievement for a group founded in 2009.
Secretary of the Never Forgotten Honor Flight Jeff Zriny uses words like dream and vision to describe the beginning of the group.
"We hoped we could fly some veterans to Washington D.C., we just didn't know how we could raise funds," Zriny said.
That was in 2009, and years later, things look like they're running smoothly.
"They're friendly, they're helpful and they've got this thing down to a science as far as I'm concerned," WWII Army veteran Earl Uecke of Lake Tomahawk said, "Everything just flows right along."
You could sense that flow weaving around Washington D.C. with the volunteers, organizers, and guardians. The goal is simple; Get veterans to their memorials. Organizers say each trip brings its own reward.
"People will say, 'You've done this 22 times, how can you be excited about this, and you're just going through the motions," Zriny said. "And it's just the smiles we see on their faces."
Many of those smiles on the 22nd flight were from Vietnam War veterans. 73 made the flight, but Zriny said nearly 400 sit on a waiting list. World War Two and Korean War vets aren't as easy to find these days, and organizers say the real challenge now is getting veterans to apply. Vietnam War Veteran Jim Klapperich, of Wausau, believes you don't need to be a war veteran or a combat veteran to deserve the trip.
"If you served, for every individual that was in combat, there were 11 guys that were providing support, and one couldn't do the job without the other 11," Klapperich said. "You deserve it, and it's worth it and it's something you've earned."
Some veterans don't always think they deserve the flight. However, organizers know they can help more veterans as long as the honor flight program keeps flying.
"The more we fly the more people will know about us and the more vets we can touch," Zriny said.
The continued flights will also help more veterans get the welcome home they deserve.
A link to applications for the Never Forgotten Honor Flight is below.
RHINELANDER - Nineteen months ago, 10 police agencies surrounded the Tripoli home of Kenneth Welsh.
Police say Welsh caused a three-hour standoff, threatened to blow up his house, and threatened to kill his wife.
Later in court, he was convicted of two felonies and sentenced to three years in prison by Oneida County Judge Michael Bloom.
But now, those convictions and prison sentence have been erased. This month, while in prison, Welsh argued he didn't fully understand all the elements of one of the crimes to which he pleaded no contest, first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Welsh's motion put some of the blame on his defense attorney, Rod Streicher.
RHINELANDER - This holiday season, you might want to tell your child to hug family members at holiday gatherings.
The Girls Scouts of the USA hopes you won't. The organization is saying daughters don't owe anyone physical affection, and that the expectation of hugs and kisses could have bad aftereffects later in life.
"I think for some people, it is a new concept," said Melissa K., the domestic violence coordinator at Tri-County Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual assault, which is based in Rhinelander.
In a post, the Girl Scouts of the USA told parents their daughters don't "owe anyone a hug. Not even at the holidays."
RHINELANDER - A number of Rhinelander police and firefighters will work a weekend morning shift in December and won't get paid for it. It's an extra task they're happy to help with.
The Rhinelander Police Department's Shop With a Cop program returns December 16. Police and firefighters take 20 third grade students from Crescent, Pelican, Zion, and Nativity schools shopping for Christmas presents at Walmart. The schools recommend students for the event.
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