2014-03-27 / Viewpoint

Pride and honor flight seeking WW II veterans

Gary Gould — Managing Editor

In 2010 I was contacted by Rudy Bolf, a member of the Knights of Columbus in Davison, who told me of a project he and his organization were working on. It was called a Pride and Honor Flight and he not only wanted my help in getting out the word about this event — he wanted me to take part in it.

The Pride and Honor Flight is a one-day trip to Washington, D.C., for a group of World War II veterans from this area.

The trip took a group of area veterans to visit the nation’s World War II Memorial giving them not only a chance to see this monument to them, but also giving them a chance, in many cases, to talk one last time to other aging WWII veterans to recall their stories, their memories and their service to this country.

Back in 2011 we ran a series of articles in some of the View Newspapers and The Davison Index profiling these veterans. It was an experience to remember and when I was able to go along on the trip to Washington D.C. as a caregiver, it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

It was my honor on June 18, 2011 to accompany these 40 men on their flight. My job was to assist any of them who need help getting around, as well as to document the journey for our readers.

WW II veterans, often referred to as the Greatest Generation, are dying at a rate of 1,200 per day. Many of their stories are already lost to time and for some their service is forgotten, but with this group of veterans we had a chance to tell some of their stories and remind people exactly why we are living free today. Without the sacrifices made by that generation, we would likely not be the nation we are today living in the free society we have all come to take for granted. The interviews were amazing. They were filled with emotions and thoughts about the war — so much so I honestly could have filled pages of the newspaper with their accounts. Serving in World War II wasn’t as simple as “we went there, did our job and came home.”

That’s just brushing the surface.

The Knights of Columbus are again trying to make this trip happen for another group of World War II veterans from Genesee County and the surrounding area.

The Mid-Michigan Honor Flight, an organization that is focused on giving WWII Veterans the opportunity to see the memorial that honors their service in Washington D.C., free of charge, is now reaching out to the counties in their Hub area, to assist their efforts in providing a “Tour of Honor” for these deserving heroes.

Mid-Michigan Honor Flight Hub Director, Tricia Donegan, said, “We have a large geographic area to cover and we need to get more volunteers involved to help find veterans and help them fill out their applications. We are currently accepting applications from WWII Veterans, any terminally ill Veteran from any era, and Korean Veterans.”

You can apply on their website or contact Tricia Donegan at 231-803-4255 for details.

This is indeed a worthy cause and I urge anyone who can help financially, by donating time or by helping a veteran apply to go along on the trip, to please do so. It is something I have no doubt you will find rewarding and worthwhile.

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