LAFAYETTE – It’s a special trip for our Hoosier Heroes, and FOX59 is taking you along for the ride.
We were invited to come along for a special ‘honor flight’ this week for a group of World War II and Korean War veterans from the Lafayette area.
“I don’t think you really realize how much it means to them,” said Pam Mow, who organizes the special flights for the Greater Lafayette Honor Flight organization.
“I couldn’t believe the welcome that I got,” said World War II veteran Roy Cubalchini. “It’s really been wonderful.”
From the airport in DC, they get on a bus, to visit all the big memorials, including the WWII memorial and the Korean War memorial.
“This is my first time here,” said Korean war veteran Wallace Frey. “It’s an awesome place.”
“This is about as nice a tribute you could give to anybody,” said WWII veteran Archie Kraut, 92.
“I didn’t get home from the second war until March of ’46,” said veteran Sam Paul of Frankfort. “By that time, there weren’t even people greeting us in New York.”
For Paul, it truly was a special day.
“I just can’t say what I feel about what we’ve seen today,” Paul said. “It’s unbelievable.”
“A lot of them gave me hugs today,” said Mow. “They’re in tears, saying ‘thank you so much for this.’”
They’re also thankful for the many volunteers who signed up as guardians for the day, like Richard Hackerd, a veteran himself.
“He came to me and asked if I wanted to be his guardian, and I said well sure,” said Hackerd.
On the plane, veterans read letters from children and well-wishers all across the state.
“I’m kind of in awe,” said veteran George Nelson. “I’d go again if they’d let me, but I don’t think they’d let me.”
“I think sometimes it’s easy to forget about veterans and they don’t get the honor and respect that they deserve,” said Mow, whose mission began a few years after the death of her son, Cody Putnam.
“It’s been a life changing event for me,” said Mow. “I was looking for a service project and I came across Honor Flight… it saved my life, it’s brought joy back to my heart… it’s so important to honor and respect them.”