Veteran’s Day breakfast honors honor flight attendees

Written by: Ellie Harris, opinion editor

Photos by: Ellie Harris, opinion editor

photos of veterans in Methodist Church welcome center

from left to right: CPL. Jim Newcomer, US Army; ILT. John Benagh, US Army; T4 Richard King, US Army; G. John Meiser, US Army WWII; SGT Bruce Mitchell, USAF; CPL Gus Kissee, USMC; CW04 Stan Payne, US Army; CPL William Smiley, USAF; S/SGT Ralph Hadlow, US Army; AN Jim Leonard US Navy.

veterans chat as they wait for the breakfast to be served

veterans chat as they wait for the breakfast to be served

Every year, the Honor Flight Network transports thousands of veterans of the Vietnam and Korean wars as well as the Second World War and other wars. Since the networks organization in 2005, they have transported over 180,000 veterans to see their respective memorials.

The New Palestine United Methodist church honored veterans from Indiana who had been on an honor flight at a Nov.11 breakfast.

It’s an important event so these heroes can be given the honor and respect they deserve. Many feel that they don’t deserve such an honor because they don’t feel they did anything special,” Former NPHS teacher and honor flight host Lee Collier said.

Every veteran I talked to had fond memories of the event no matter how physically or emotionally taxing it could be. One was Forrest Parsley, who served in the Marine Corps, in Korea from 1951 to 1952.

“It was fabulous! The only thing is, it sure did wear you out. We left at 3:30 that morning and we didn’t get home until 2:00 the next morning,” Parsley said  “It was something to see.”

Frederick Banks was on the most recent honor flight.

“(The flight is) something I’ll never forget,” Banks said.

Robert Freeman, or “Sam” in the Army, had a more emotional experience on his honor flight, and struggled to relieve it as he told his story.

“One special part to me, because it was more personal, was at the Vietnam Wall. I had a highschool friend who I played basketball and football with. I saw his name and stood there for a while. Additionally, my grade school years were at a Polish-Catholic orphanage in Chicago. And through the years I learned of one of the kids there a few years after me. I managed to find his name on the wall as well.” Freeman said. “It was probably one of the more awesome experiences I would have.”

Still, in the midst of the more exciting or touching stories, sometimes we forget about everyone else.

“Everyone [who serves in the Armed Forces] volunteered to serve this country: they all deserve praise, they all deserve all the love we have. Some of these World War Two veterans, literally saved the world. I think just giving them one day a year is not enough, so I just do all I can to recognize every single one that I can.” Kasey Collier, who works with Indy Honor Flight said.

Everyone who serves in the Armed Forces participates in the creation of history, whether or not they feel they “did anything special”.

“I think from the very beginning of time it’s what allowed us our freedoms to become the nation that we are and without those people fighting, even in the ancient ancient times, we wouldn’t be where we are at today. So I think it’s very very important that we continue the traditions and that it goes on to future generations to keep our nation and the freedoms that we have.” Said the daughter of Jim Walraven, who served for 21 years in the Navy, after her father served 20 years in the Army.

John Hancock, who served in the Navy in 1951, spent a year and a half on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean and Korea.

“Once a year, we’re recognized. It’s kind of emotional with all the attention we get. I’ve got two more programs to go to this weekend. It’s really nice. If I wasn’t a veteran I’d be honoring them myself. I think it’s important.”

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