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'Honor Flight' an experience like no other

Tom Jackson • Apr 7, 2013 at 4:44 AM

Ohio Veterans Home resident Bud Walters, 85, was moved when he took an Honor Flight in 2010 to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a wonderful experience, best one I ever had in my life,” said Walters, who served in the Navy from 1950-54. “You sure shed some tears when you go to those memorials.”

Another Honor Flight recipient, OVH resident and Army Air Corps veteran Jim Berigan, 85, went about three years ago and was also impressed.

“I didn’t realize people would cheer and clap and greet you the way they did,” he said.

He said the veterans on the trip received that kind of reception everywhere they went.

“The airports, the restaurants, the monuments. There was no end to it all day long,” he said.

A new movie, “Honor Flight,” has been released about the program that flies veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the World War II Memorial and other memorials. It’s being screened at the ongoing Cleveland Film Festival.

Stein Hospice and the Ohio Veterans Home have teamed up to make free showings of the film available to local residents, with Stein ponying up the fee and OVH providing the venue. Ron Brooks, a registered nurse who works with veterans at Stein Hospice, has accompanied veterans on three Honor Flights, and he’s working to help three local veterans get on a flight.

For certain branches of the Armed Services, certain memorials are particularly important, he said. 

“Our Marines absolutely adore going to the Iwo Jima Memorial,” he said.

Vietnam veterans are particularly moved by the Vietnam Memorial, he said. 

The trip includes watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Brooks said.

“We have a box seat, you might say, for that,” he said.

Veterans receive a commemorative T-shirt, and some choose to be buried wearing the shirt, Brooks said.

Julie Yeager, director of Veterans Services at Stein Hospice, said she heard about the movie from the Hospice Veterans Partnership of Ohio, which seeks ways to help veterans at the end of life, honor them and bring them peace.

She said 55 students from Perkins High School will be bussed in to watch the movie with veterans at the Ohio Veterans Home.

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