Honor Flight postcard: An emotional arrival
Day 1 is ending for about 54 veterans plus their guardians and other volunteers who are on a trip of a lifetime.
For many of these veterans, they served in Vietnam, several fought in World War II and one or two saw action Korea. For the Vietnam veterans, this Honor Flight Nevada trip is one of discovery, one of healing, one of making new friends and one of discussing commonality.
An honor flight out of Reno begins early. All the passengers for this flight arose sometime between 2-3 a.m. and then hurried to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport for a 4:30 a.m. gathering. Once boarding tickets and ID badges were picked up, veterans received sweatshirts, stood for a group photo and proceeded to the TSA line.
This indeed will be a special weekend for the veterans, especially those from Vietnam. A special ceremony is planned at the Vietnam wall on Saturday in addition for the Nevada delegation touring the other memorial and monuments dedicated to the nation’s various wars and veterans. After attending a newspaper conference in early July at the University of Maryland, we visited the various memorials and monuments and came away with a sincere sense of gratitude for the men and women who sacrificed so much for our freedom. The Vietnam Wall remains as one of the most popular stops. On this hot, humid Sunday afternoon on July 2, scores of people left flowers, wreaths and notes expressing their love and admiration to the 55,000 plus service men and women who died in a distant land. Visiting the wall does give one pause to think about a war that ended more than 40 years ago just like the traveling wall has done over the years when it has toured Nevada.
It’s taken at least a generation to recognize the individual sacrifice our Vietnam veterans did in a war controlled more by the politicians than the generals and admirals. More recognition has been afforded to our veterans over the years, and the Take Me Home Huey project that visited Carson City this autumn is an indication that our veterans endured much in Indochina. When Carson City’s Vietnam Veterans Association marched in the Nevada Day parade, we saw the great, positive reaction of people standing up and cheering as the veterans marched down Carson Street.
This afternoon upon arrival at the bustling Baltimore Washington International Airport, the veterans arrived inside the passenger area from their flight not only to a line of soldiers and sailors clapping and shaking their hands but also to the scores of passengers waiting for their flights. It was not hard to miss the emotional response with many passengers wiping away tears.
Retired Navy Capt. Craig Bell of Reno said the arrival at BWI was very emotional as did other veterans. After the veterans assembled at a meeting point, they talked to many of the active-duty sailors and soldiers of all ranks about the welcome and about the commonality of serving their country as members of the military.
I talked to one Marine who said it couldn’t get much better than this experience. The U.S. Marine Corps celebrated its 242nd birthday on Friday, and he will be to visit the Vietnam Wall and pay his respects to his brothers and sisters.
Steve Ranson is LVN’s Editor Emeritus who covers military news for the Nevada Appeal and the LVN. He is traveling with a group of veterans to Washington, D.C.