Saturday, May 14, 2011

Honor Flight Lifts Off From Duluth

This morning I woke at four a.m. to bring my father-in-law to the airport. When I got to his apartment he was sleeping in the car, ready to go. He'd been there since midnight.

On the way to the airport he told me he remembered how he used to sleep in his jeep with his shoes on. If it wasn't raining the top would be down, but if raining the top would be up. There were no windows on the sides. He'd bunch up his blanket between the seats and it could be pretty comfortable, he said. But someone always came along and said, "Wags, time to get over to headquarters to get new orders."

These memories, more than sixty years old were fresh in the mind of this WWII veteran because today is the first lift off of Honor Flight. More than 100 World War Two veterans are flying to Washington, D.C. to see the WWII Memorial built in their honor for sacrifices and service rendered to their country.

Today's Honor Flight has been months in the making. The veterans and an entourage of paramedics, guardians, doctors, videographer and photographer left Duluth International Airport at 6:30 a.m. and will be arriving shortly at Reagan National Airport in D.C. where they will be greeted by an Honor Flight ground crew. In addition to the World War Two Memorial, the schedule includes visits to other memorials including Viet Nam Veterans, Korean War Veterans, Women in Military Service for America among others.

My father-in-law, Wilmer A. "Bud" Wagner, was the second man drafted for service from Northern Minnesota in April 1941 and crossed the Atlantic on the first ship convoy to Europe. As a member of the Field Artillery, attached to the 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division, saw fighting and more in North Africa and Italy, with many a friend left behind. Today he will be part of the Blue Platoon as they visit the various sites and memorials.

Today's Honor Flight is expected to return to Duluth a little after 10:00 p.m. tonight whereupon the veterans will be met by the Duluth Combined Honor Guard, a drum and bugle corps, and (hopefully) a large crowd of appreciative people.

Bud has requested that when I arrive to pick him up tonight that I bring copies of the memoir/diary he published about his experiences titled And There Shall Be Wars. If you're interested, it's worth reading. You can find more information about this book and the price of our freedom here.

1 comment:

Pedro Albuquerque said...

Nice story, thanks for sharing.