My Honor Flight Experience – Part 3

 Honor Flight of Idaho 2013-A True Honor – Part 3 of 4

By Paul Donovan, Veteran, Heart ‘n Home Volunteer

After arriving at the Korean War Memorial, we were greeted by the ghostly spectacle of soldiers in movement to “somewhere.”  The wall to the side of this spectacle had engraved images of real soldiers, taken from real photographs taken

at the time, embedded in the polished granite wall.  It truly is an image that I will not soon forget.

We the headed over, “on foot,” to the Lincoln Memorial where we viewed Mr. Lincoln watching eternally over the Washington Mall.  As our time was pressing, we moved on to the Vietnam Memorial, or “The Wall”, where some 68,000 names are engraved on it.   I was again awestruck at how many Americans we’ve lost in so many wars fighting for freedom.  Soldiers have told me over and over for the past 37 years, “I didn’t fight for my country, I didn’t fight for my flag, and I didn’t fight for my people.  I fought for the guy next to me in the foxhole.  I figured that was all I could handle.”  I’ve said the same thing myself many times.  Truer words were never spoken.

We drove by the White House and our nation’s capital, the Ford Theater, where President Lincoln was assassinated and the Peterson Home across the street where Mr. Lincoln was brought for aid.  “Big Mike”, our illustrious and extremely knowledgeable tour guide, filled us in on every detail as we pass by many, many historical sites going down Pennsylvania Avenue and crossing Constitution Boulevard.

We drove by the Pentagon and saw first-hand, the damage done by Flight 93.  It is easily discernible because the lighter, unweathered color of the stone is seen where the damage was done and then superbly replaced.  Behind the then damaged area is a chapel.  I surmise that is in reverence to all those that lost their lives on that fateful day.  We also saw the Air Force Memorial, which is new as of 2006. The steel spires reached 90 feet into the sky!  Our tour guide, “big Mike,” explained to us that had it been there during 9/11, the plane would have struck the tall spires on the way to the Pentagon and things might have been a bit different.

Next stop was the Iwo Jima monument. Some of the Veterans glared in amazement from a distance, and others, like Don, the Marine, went right up to the base of the memorial and touched it.  Being an old Navy Corpsman stationed with the Marines, I asked Don for the honor of having my picture taken with him and he graciously obliged me.  “Semper Fi!”

Continue reading the Honor Flight story – Part 4 of 4.

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My Honor Flight Experience – Part 4

 Honor Flight of Idaho 2013-A True Honor – Part 4 of 4

By Paul Donovan, Veteran, Heart ‘n Home Volunteer

Four of our Idaho WWII Veterans were chosen to lay a wreath at the Tomb, a very solemn ceremony, indeed.  We were privileged to watch the Changing of the Guard and later were greeted by many Navy Active Duty Personnel who stood in line and shook every Veterans hand and said, “Thank you, sir (or ma’am) for what you’ve done for our country.”  It was a time for the vets to again be recognized.

Thursday, September 5, 2013, we were awakened at 3:45 AM…’reveille,’ as they call it in the Army.  It was time to get the vets up, get coffee, and head for the airport to fly home.  At the airport we were met by the “Honor Flight” folks in the lime T-shirts again and wonderfully escorted right to the security area and through the gate and onto the plane in plenty of time.  I personally cannot thank them enough for their service to us.  They truly lent us a generous and helping hand!

When we landed in Boise we were met with flags, Generals and staff, the Boise Patriot Riders, and so many family members that one could not count them all.  Again, tears were shed and stories were told as Lance and representatives from the Idaho Senate greeted all the veterans and presented them with certificates, as well as a US Flag that had been flown over the Capital.  We all shook hands, said so long, many tears flowing, and thus ended one memorable trip for the Veterans of World War II, and for us all.   As General MacArthur so aptly put it in his farewell speech at West Point, “The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training…sacrifice.”  May God continue to bless this nation, our Veterans and all its people.

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