With Honor

Awesome. Amazing. Wonderful. Outstanding.

I feel like I’ve been saying those words a lot these past few days as friends, family and co-workers have asked me about my travels with the World War II veterans last Friday and Saturday on Honor Flight Southwest Minnesota’s third flight.

To put into words what this trip has meant to them — and what it has meant to me to see it through their eyes — is difficult, even for a writer!

If I’m not getting goose bumps about the memories, I’m getting choked up because I miss the smiles, the hugs and the stories from my World War II heroes.

After returning from the inaugural flight a year ago, I called the experience the trip of a lifetime. Now I’m wondering if it’s OK for me to say I’ve had two trips of a lifetime.

Since returning from our journey, Aaron Hagen has been busy editing photos and my fingers have been tapping away at the keyboard, writing stories for our special 16-page, full-color Honor Flight edition that will be published with Saturday’s Daily Globe.

I’m excited for our readers to finally get a chance to learn more about some of the wonderful men and women who were our honored guests on this flight. The trip would not have been possible without the generosity of people across southwest Minnesota.

When you stand face to face with a veteran and see the tears in their eyes and the bounce in their step — all because of two full days of touring war memorials, getting countless hugs, handshakes and accolades — it makes any donation you can give to Honor Flight well worth it.

Even before the third flight became a reality, there was talk of possibly taking a fourth flight of World War II veterans out to Washington, D.C., to view their memorial.

At this time, it’s uncertain whether that will happen. In reality, we need to get more buy-in from communities outside of our immediate area to help sponsor veterans for the flight.

We also need to know if there are still World War II veterans here in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa who want to make the trip.

I know of at least two veterans — from communities just 20 minutes down the road — who are still hoping to go on Honor Flight.

I would encourage any World War II veteran who would be interested in experiencing your own “trip of a lifetime” to call and request an application or more information.

At the same time, any veteran who has a child, grandchild or other relative who wants to accompany them on the flight as a guardian, they need to get their name on the list. Approximately 50 guardians are needed for each flight, and the first to apply get first choice if and when a fourth flight is scheduled.

“You aren’t committing yourself by submitting an application,” said Jane Lanphere, Luverne Area Chamber director and coordinator of the Honor Flight applications for veterans and guardians. Jane is available to help answer your questions and send you an application. Just give her a call at (507) 283-4061.