Bob Sasman's "Honor Flight" to Washington DC
On April 4, 2012, ISAWWA's own Bob Sasman participated in the Honor Flight Chicago program. Bob is a WWII veteran; and, as such, was eligible for the incredible journey to Washington DC. There are normally about 10 flights a year from Chicago to Washington DC put together by volunteers at no cost to the participants to honor the remaining veterans of WWII. Approximately 3,000 vets have taken the flight with a waiting list of over 1,000 (there are over 20,000 eligible vets in the Chicago area). The average age of the vets is nearing 90. The trip (done in one day) consists of visits to various sites in DC including, of course, the WWII Memorial.
I became aware of this trip when Bob and I were talking while waiting to get in to the Fuller Award luncheon recently at WATERCON 2012 in Springfield. I asked Bob if he was a WWII vet, and he said he was. Bob mentioned that he was going on the April 4, 2012 flight; so, of course, I promised I would be there at Midway when they returned. The vets are given a schedule, but are not aware of the reception when they return. They are also not aware that there is a "mail call” during the flight home in which family and friends can pass along messages of love and thanks. Upon arrival home, the Chicago Fire Department trucks spray fountains of water when the plane pulls in and is met by a variety of Honor Guards and a bagpipe band which escorts them to the terminal. Active soldiers and sailors act as escorts for the vets as they pass through the terminal. There are hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, families and friends to greet them in the terminal accompanied by a military band. The looks on the faces of the vets when they turn the corner and see the cheering crowds is very emotional, as most of them came home from the war with little fanfare.
Some of the vets wear their uniforms bedecked with medals or with some indication of their branch of service and units or ships. Many are in wheelchairs due to their age, but not a one complained!
Bob arrived and was met by his extended family including his son and daughter. I was able to get a few pictures of Bob entering the concourse and posing with his family. The smile says it all!
If anyone wants additional information on this fantastic effort for the "Greatest Generation”, please visit their web site at www.honorflightchicago.org.