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.
STEVENS POINT - Stevens Point Police are investigating an armed robbery.
Around 6 a.m. Sunday morning, police and Portage County Sheriff Deputies responded to a report of an armed robbery at the R Store in the 5400 block of HWY 10 E in Stevens Point. Police say during the initial investigation, they determined an armed suspect displayed a weapon and took money from the store.
PELICAN LAKE - Tribal members from across Wisconsin held a Deep Winter Camp to pass on parts of their cultures. Members from several different tribes wanted to give kids the chance to experience a piece of their culture. They hope the camp encourages younger members to keep traditions going and never forget where they came from. "They're going to be the next teachers they're good kids and we all love every kid that came here and spent time with us. They all learned something and they'll take it back and teach others," said Lac du Flambeau Band Vice Chairman John Johnson Sr.
CRANDON - Forest County Sheriff's Deputy Craig Justice was justified in shooting and killing 31-year-old Brandon Cude on Jan. 4, Forest County District Attorney Chuck Simono ruled Friday.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice released the results of its investigation in the case, and Simono's decision, Friday afternoon.
The DOJ documents detail how Cude swung a shotgun at Justice at close range. The deputy had just learned Cude had felony warrants against him, and Justice was trying to arrest Cude. Justice fired four shots on the scene, a rural road south of Crandon.
"He didn't get a shot off?" a fellow officer asked Justice after the shooting.
"No. He tried, though. Pulled that sucker out and pointed it right at me," Justice replied in an exchange recorded on a body camera.
EAGLE RIVER - Vilas County officers can now respond to active shooter calls better prepared.
All deputies and patrol offices now have access to steel-plated body armor, something only the Vilas County SWAT Team had before.
"We want to make sure our staff are fully protected," said Vilas County Sheriff's Office Captain Gerard Ritter. "I never want to see anything happen to any one of my staff. And we should outfit them with the protection they need."
Before the new body armor, Ritter said officers and deputies only had access to soft body armor.
"The weave material is designed to stop or slow down a projectile," said Ritter.
Officers will still wear the soft-bodied armor every day, but in active shooter situations, officers can now essentially double up on protection, protection once only offered to the SWAT Team.
"There has been an increase in active shooter incidences across the United States," said Ritter.
MINOCQUA - Only about one-third of students showed up to classes at Lakeland Union High School Friday morning, with many staying home after police verified a shooting threat.
More police officers were on hand at the school Friday morning.
On Thursday evening, Minocqua Police Chief Dave Jaeger confirmed the discovery of shooting threats in the ladies' bathroom near the LUHS auditorium. The threat noted an attack would be similar to Wednesday's school shooting in Parkland, Fla., which killed 17 people.
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