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All American Day

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A Featured Experience

Purpose: As part of our mission, All American Day Charitable Trust expects to not only support our Featured Charity through fundraising, but we also expect to commit volunteer effort to further its cause. Each year, this page will offer a platform for reflection following that volunteer experience. Our hope in documenting this reflection is to offer additional insight into the merits of the charity and its mission.

May 10, 2011 Honor Flight

Author: Greg Fleming, Trustee

On May 10th, I had the unique pleasure of joining Honor Flight Tri-State (the Cincinnati-area chapter of Honor Flight Network) as a Guardian on its first trip of 2011. Having a volunteer slot was a gift from my wife and kids for Father's Day. It will be tough to beat. (Certainly, it puts my seemingly annual massage gift certificate Mother's Day presents to shame.) 

I was one of 79 Guardians who accompanied and supported 70 Veterans, primarily WWII but also a few Korean. The greater than one:one ratio was necessary. As the age of the vets advances, the logistics of the Flight grow more challenging. In a single day, we took a round-trip charter flight to DC, toured the Mall, the WWII Memorial (pictured above), Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Air Force Memorial (pictured below), and Iwo Jima Memorial (pictured to right). To give you an added sense of the complexity, the Hero with whom I was paired was one of several wheel chair bound participants. I often needed an extra set of hands. Despite the challenges, it was a massive undertaking that went off without a hitch. I want to compliment the Honor Flight Tri-State team for providing a truly special day to deserving veterans. They know how to demonstrate gratitude.

To be clear, as a Guardian, the flight was not a sightseeing event. It was a day-long heart-felt 

'thank you' note to men and women who committed so much in service. My job as Guardian was to ensure that the Veteran with whom I was paired safely got the experience he was due. Lending a hand down the bus steps. Pushing the wheel chair at a pace conducive to absorbing the incredible surroundings. Comforting if necessary. Listening to stories for sure. Staying out of the way as he reminisced with his fellow brothers and sisters in arms. Taking pictures for his loved ones. Believe me- it gives me goose-bumps recalling the day.

The humility of the 70 vets was awesome and befits the compliments often awarded their generation. Specifically, the Vet with whom I was paired was an Army Air Corps B-17 Radio Gunner who flew 20 bombing missions into Europe BEFORE D-Day. It took others on the flight to share details of his heroism. This selflessness and humility were typical on the flight. Out of privacy, without mentioning his name, I want to again thank him for allowing me to be a part of the journey to HIS Memorial and for what he did for our country. 

As is the case with many my age, I had two grandfathers who fought in WWII. Both have passed. Looking back, I missed an opportunity to truly thank them for the sacrifices they made. I regret not asking about their experiences. I thought quite a bit about them on May 10th. Let's not miss the opportunity with those who remain. I encourage you to give your time and/ or money to this wonderful and rewarding cause.