Dad on his Honor Flight San Diego last Friday.
(He is the one in the light blue shirt next to the window.)
If you haven't heard about Honor Flights before the Government shut down here in America made it front page news, you probably have now.
I hadn't really known much about them until my Dad signed up to be on an Honor Flight.
You can read all about the program HERE.
Briefly...it is a non-profit organization dedicated to flying military veterans to Washington DC free of charge to see the various War Memorials, Arlington Cemetery etc.
They arrive, stay over night for free in a hotel (Hilton, in Dad's case), then are ferried around DC in tour buses with one Guardian (who travels on their own dime to serve in this manner) for every three veterans.
The veterans are fed, feted at a banquet, and fly home on the third day.
A real whirl wind experience of a life time for them.
First night banquet.
Dad is the one in light blue long sleeves.
There were 70+ people with this Honor Flight.
Dad being honored...I don't know yet what exactly he is being singled out about.
Out in DC on Saturday.
My Dad served with the Boy Scouts for over 25 years.
One of his troop's Eagle Scouts was John Cotton, who was my brother's age, three years older than me.
John grew up to eventually become the Secretary of the Navy (Reserves).
He lives in Virginia and made a special effort to meet up with Dad during the Memorials tour.
There are "Flights" in DC every day, coming from all over America.
Each group has its own logo.
Honor Flight San Diego, Dad's group, has a logo with a plane soaring over the Coronado Bay bridge, flanked by a setting sun and two palm trees.
I am trying to find out what the lettering says on the back of the tee shirt.
A group shot of the San Diego veterans and their guardians at the (now open again!) WWII Memorial.
A photographer was along on the Flight and worked very diligently to photograph each person during the trip.
It moved to me to see men wearing "Pearl Harbor Survivor" hats, and see the faces those who served our country during WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam.
I believe the charted flight was with US Air.
They decorated the plane for the flight home.
Dad served on a couple of ships during WWII.
He was a "Plank Owner" for the Providence, which means he was part of the ship's original crew after it was commissioned.
They had some fun with the vets on the flight home by providing word bubbles and feature masks.
They certainly gave Dad the right bubble!
(Bernie joked that as soon as the US gov realized Dad was rolling into DC to see the Memorials, they quickly decided to open them again. They knew better than to mess with Carl Dustin!)
I choked up a bit to see that there were people who came to the Memorials to hold signs thanking the Vets.
The Flight arrived back in San Diego and walked into the airport with a band playing and dancers jitterbugging to Glen Miller Music and other celebratory goings on.
See a video of this Honor Flight's return to San Diego HERESee the photos of the whole Honor Flight Here.
If you know of an American vet, and particular a WWII vet or any vet facing a terminal illness, please encourage them to apply to be in on a free Honor Flight from their area.
Wheelchairs are provided; the flight, hotel and food is also provided.
Bus transportation and air transportation is first class.
The Vets are well cared for every moment of the trip.
It really is a trip of a lifetime.
And it is our chance to honor them for their service.