By JIM LEVERANCE
Jim and his guide for the day, Mary Quigley.
Mary is originally from Chippewa Falls and is a 30 year Navy Veteran.
She now lives in DC area
Most people are likely aware of what the Honor Flight program is about so will not spend much time on it. It is a one day event taking Veterans from the WW2, KOREAN and VIETNAM eras. You need not have served in these conflicts only during these time frames. Obviously WW2 Veterans have the highest ranking.
From the very start to end this program is designed to provide the veteran with an unbelievable experience. It is extremely well run and the agenda is planned out to the minute.
Memorials and sites included WW2, KOREAN, VIETNAM, MARINE, AIR FORCE, ARLINGTON, TOMB OF UNKNOWN including changing of the guard and Pentagon Memorials 9/11.
For me personally it was the welcome home that did not occur 50+ years ago. Vietnam veterans will understand this. It was a bit overwhelming as they took great pains at Dane County Regional Airport to make it an individual event. I was sort of expecting it to be a group entry, but no. There were probably a thousand or more people there. Processing this all is still a little difficult, but it was very thoughtful and gratifying.
In DC people of every age were always coming up to thank us for our service. They were very welcoming and generous.
Don't want to belabor this thing but if you are a veteran from this time period you are eligible to apply. There is an internal priority system example highest priority WW2 etc. Last I heard there were 1400 people on waiting list. I applied in 2017 and would have gone in spring 2020. Pandemic created a big delay. There were 91 Veterans on Flight with a guardian for each.
You cannot believe how well this program is run. There are hundreds of volunteers making sure it is the trip of a lifetime.