News

Honor Flight – Veterans go to Washington D.C.

The trip of a lifetime for a small group of veterans from WWII, the Korean and Vietnam wars.

By: Maureen Jones (maureen.jones@frosch.com)

I have taught Travel Marketing and Hospitality at University, lectured all over the world, write a travel blog, contribute to travel magazines and have been President of several Travel Organizations but this time, I am writing about a very unique trip which my husband, a Lt. Colonel (retired) in the U.S. Marine Corp recently took along with other special people, United States Military veterans from various services. He was invited to join a small group of veterans for a 3 day trip to see various military memorial sites in the capital. He was the only U.S. Marine invited from the Los Altos Rotary Club, and the Los Altos Chapter of American Legion, along with military veterans from around the Bay Area, and from Sacramento. He was honored to take part. Most of the veterans were in a wheelchair, and had a “guardian angel” assigned to look after them. Roy, my husband, was lucky to have Jerry Murray, a retired Air Force pilot to be his guardian, from the Los Altos American Legion and it was in his words, the trip of a lifetime. I think Roy was more thrilled about this trip, than our three weeks African safari.

This was very well organized. All the Veterans wore a red t-shirt and a red jacket, and the guardian angels all wore a blue outfit.

They flew on Alaska Airlines from San Francisco on Sunday, June 2 to Washington D.C. and were met by a police escort with sirens, to clear the traffic and let the bus full of these important elderly men in their red jackets take them to the Hilton Crystal City Hotel. On Monday, they went to the World War 11 Memorial, the American History Museum, the U.S. Navy Yard/USN Museum, Arlington National Cemetery, Women’s War Service Memorial, and then had a reception back at the hotel.

A very special part of the evening for Roy, was his meeting up with Colonel Paul Ken Hopper, who he had not seen in 55 years. Roy was Commanding Officer of a U.S. Marine Reserve Unit in Los Angeles and was promoted by his company in 1964 to be Vice President and transferred to San Francisco. He gave his post over to his Executive Officer, Ken Hopper, and they had not met since then. Ken had become the National President of the Marine Corps Reserve Association in Washington D.C. and spoke at the dinner.

 

On Tuesday, they went to the Lincoln, Korean War and Vietnam War Memorials, the Navy Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the USMC Memorial, the Caisson Barn , and then returned home on an Alaska flight.

Roy was amazed at the thousands of school children at the various sites, and many of them came up to the veterans, shook their hand, and said – thank you for your service.

Nurse Connie Johnson had spoken to St. Dunstan’s Catholic School in Mill brae about the importance of thanking veterans for their service. One teacher, Charlene Calaunan had her class each write a letter expressing their thanks and presented all the letters to Nurse Johnson which she gave out to all the veterans on this Honor Flight. My husband cried, he was so moved at the letters he received.

This is the 21st Honor Flight which Capt. Carl Stewart, and Flight Nurse Connie Johnson have led. Go on their web site www.honorflightbayarea.org and see the photos taken on the trip. This is all run by volunteers, and donations are welcome to keep these trips going. The next one will be in September

One veteran I spoke to said he always goes to the airport to welcome these trips home. He came back from Vietnam, a doctor, minus a leg, and he was greeted by a mob of people at San Francisco Airport shouting nasty comments at him, spitting, calling him a killer, and he said he has never forgotten his horrible homecoming. He was extremely bitter when he was talking to me, and said he vowed that he would be part of a welcoming committee for any veteran coming home. There were hundreds of cheering people at San Francisco airport on June 4. One line of the welcome committee was firemen and policemen, and the other line was family members and friends all holding signs of welcome. Many of the veterans from the Vietnam and Korean Wars had tears and were very moved at their reception.

A most wonderful surprise was that each veteran was presented with a handmade quilt which is absolutely gorgeous, a collectors item to be sure. They are made by an organization called Quilts of Honor, www.quiltsofhonor.org and Roy’s was made by a lady named Ursula Sylvan of Hughson, California.

A card he loved said : Thanks for being the kind of person people can depend on, you have honor, heart and integrity. Because of you we are free, safe, at peace.

The trip of a life time. Do take the time and go on the two web sites and read about the organization and the quilt making.

I am an immigrant, who is proud to now be a citizen of this wonderful country, and have a U.S.Marine for my husband.

Maureen Jones

All Horizons Travel/Frosch

825 Santa Cruz Avenue

Menlo Park, CA 94025

Tel.No. 650-961-2340 direct

HONOR FLIGHT BAY AREA FOUNDATION IS A 501(c)3 NONPROFIT ORGANIZATION