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Veterans Honor Flight

Updated: Dec 23, 2022

Don Renfro will speak on his being part of a veterans’ group Honor Flight to Washington, DC.



Transcript:
10:35:26 I would
10:35:34 Good morning, I don't know how many of you know what honor flight?
10:35:42 Is that what it consists, of so I thought i'd give you a brief explanation of what it is it's a national organization, all 50 states part 2, and the goal is to fly as many veterans as possible initially
10:36:00 met as many veterans as possible from World War Ii.
10:36:04 To Washington, D. C. to see the memorials that were built in their arm.
10:36:12 Excuse me? Is that better or isn't that better no no no!
10:36:28 Is it, Granny does that matter, yeah yeah yeah maybe i'll do something.
10:36:38 No, it's all Oh, good
10:36:44 They started in early, 2 thousands flying veterans to Washington.
10:36:52 There are 136 hubs in the U.
10:36:55 S. Bakersfield, Kerr County, is one of the homes approximately 46,000 veterans in Current county.
10:37:06 I think of that number of problems. 3 or 4,000 have made the trip honor flight.
10:37:16 Number one was conducted in May of 2,012 and I can't remember the exact number, but it was like 25, or 30 veterans that were flown to Washington now, i'm dressed in a blue shirt a lot
10:37:36 of people ask me, Well, why are all the veterans in blue shirts?
10:37:40 And the reason is that the first flight that goes more whenever they wanted to, he got to Washington, and they lost veterans they couldn't.
10:37:53 So the the organization decided that we have to do something about this.
10:37:58 And so they started issuing to veterans on the flight closing, and that's why I have a blue shirt.
10:38:08 This is like a dog tag put it on when you get to Washington.
10:38:14 We're going to get on a plane and you don't take it off until you get home.
10:38:17 It has all the information it has a photo Id on the back.
10:38:23 It allows you to get through Tsa and it's It's an interesting program on flight.
10:38:34 45, which I participated in was October the eighteenth to the twentieth, 2 nights and 3 days.
10:38:40 We had an extra night and an extra day, and the reason for that was the plane that we were going to come back to Bakersfield.
10:38:53 Bond had a problem, and they had to correct that problem.
10:38:56 So we got an extra day and an extra night. and i'll tell you a little bit about that later.
10:39:04 On. So most of these stories yeah, people tell about honor, flight, and the bot veterans have a beginning in an end, and mine has a beginning in an end, and my my experience with honor flight started in April of this year Nancy
10:39:25 and I went to the airport. Come home. Flight 44 joint, 44 included.
10:39:35 Our good friend Tony Lee and Tony Lee got off that airplane.
10:39:41 Tony Lee and Tony Lee got off that airplane, and he was a totally changed person.
10:39:45 He said, Don, you have got to go towards that. You have got to get on one of these flights.
10:39:51 You need to experience this. it'll change your life it's the most fascinating, most emotional experience.
10:39:59 You'll ever have so I looked at tony and I said, Are you serious?
10:40:04 And he said, I couldn't be more serious next day I went down, got an application.
10:40:13 I put my application in, and fortunately I was selected.
10:40:24 Subsequent to the application is an interview process the staff interviews all veterans who apply, and they know all about your history on the service.
10:40:34 They know where you've been what you've done what you can do what you can't do.
10:40:42 They like to have as many mobile veterans as possible and that's not always possible with world war ii bets.
10:40:49 And now there's not many of us korean bets left. But there's a whole bunch of vietnam vets who can get around pretty well, being mom pets are in their early seventys, and it's just a
10:41:03 program that I just can't say enough about I should say There is.
10:41:11 There was a meeting the Saturday before we left on Tuesday.
10:41:15 Of all the people going on the flight, 192 people left on this flight at that point.
10:41:26 In time.
10:41:28 They passed out duffel bag, a blue duffel bag a wind breaker jacket, which I wore, and 3 of these shirts.
10:41:43 That's what we were to where the entire trip Oh, and we did so.
10:41:52 The beginning of this story is getting all the paraphernalia that we have to have who are given instructions.
10:42:01 But then the rest of it. Are we ready, Sydney?
10:42:03 Yeah, this is the morning we left Bakersfield to go to Washington, Dc.
10:42:12 This is loading the airplane and it's an allegiance, airplane, aircraft, an airbus.
10:42:17 It has 192 seats you're not padded.
10:42:23 They're not comfortable and get a 192 people in there.
10:42:28 There's a 100 and 92 people that's.
10:42:32 The morning we left for Washington. Dc you'll notice that There's a lot of blue shirts there's a lot of red shirts, and there's a few of sprinkling a white shirts the white
10:42:44 shirts are the staff, the volunteers who organized and administer the program.
10:42:51 The red shirts are guardians. Every veteran is assigned a guardian.
10:42:56 The Guardian is responsible for his festival. Throughout this entire trip the veterans are are flown to Washington, Dc.
10:43:07 At no cost to the Metro. The flight is paid for, and all the foods paid for hotels are paid for.
10:43:15 The red shirts are volunteers, and they pay their own way.
10:43:19 So this is on the way to Washington and we arrived in Washington late at night at a dinner, and we're total 2.
10:43:31 He had breakfast at 6 o'clock in the morning. the falling morning, because we have to load the buses.
10:43:37 There are 4 buses, 4 of us
10:43:43 They were going to take us to all the more. Excuse me all of my mornings.
10:43:48 The first stop was at the capital, and it's amazing we have 4 buses loaded with veterans.
10:43:55 All veterans set and window seats. We had a police escort Everywhere we went.
10:44:05 We never stopped at a stop sign. We never had a paid parking fees, went straight up to the capital.
10:44:12 We were the only people in the capital, the only people and I started asking questions and no case allowed.
10:44:22 But we got a picture cell. Phones were left on tables.
10:44:30 We were taken in to the house chambers. This is the portrait of Washington. On the left side of the podium, and on the right side is the forket of Lafayette.
10:44:49 The house chambers when I walked in I was Awestruck. it's small, you know.
10:44:55 We see things on Tv. We see. Oh, the president's message we see things that are going on in Congress.
10:45:03 And you think this is a huge it's very small and we were ushered in and told us it down didn't know what to expect, and we sat there for a few minutes, and then the door opens police everywhere and representative
10:45:22 Mccarthy came in and spoke to us now so so i'll have to pick a drink before I was this
10:45:37 I don't care what your politics are my politics or my personal opinion, and I don't agree with everything that some of the representatives in Congress do.
10:45:52 But I do have to say that Kevin Mccarthy is the minority, was the minority leader of the House.
10:46:05 He is the only Congressman that makes this happen to veterans.
10:46:12 No other veterans that I know of that they know of.
10:46:17 When we were there talking to us, had a member of Congress open up the capital.
10:46:22 I have a tour, and he did present each of us with a metal commemorating our visit to the capital.
10:46:31 This is taken in the Rotunda, it's all the veterans in our group that we're there 3 World war, 2 vets, 9 Korean bits, and 80 vietnam vets, so that was that's
10:46:51 92. it's a 192 people went on the flight.
10:46:54 So there's 100 people that are supporting the 92
10:47:03 The next visit after the capital was the World War, 2 memorial
10:47:13 Joanne had a photo of the memorial hits.
10:47:16 A spectacular memorial that Spans them all and it's the last one built well isn't the last one.
10:47:22 The Women's memorial is the last one there's 3 World War Ii.
10:47:28 Veterans. One is in the wheelchair, 2 of them are standing.
10:47:37 The one on the right is blue tickle he's 98 years young, and he and I became very close on the trip.
10:47:48 He's a judge in curm county his civilian life.
10:47:55 He was a good friend, an excellent friend of Senator Robert Dole.
10:47:59 They're both from Kansas senator Robert, dole with a big big supportorter of honor flight, and he's a main reason why it has gone so far to this day.
10:48:11 But those 3 were given the honor of laying a wreath, not laying, but placing your wreath at the memorial; and the memorial has a representation of all 50 States.
10:48:27 It also has a black granite monolith. Yeah, spams the other side of the reflecting pool, and that granite slab has 4,000 gold stars.
10:48:46 Each star represents 100 people who died military personnel who died in World War, 2.
10:48:54 So there's 400,000 that lost their lives it's an excellent one.
10:48:59 Memorial
10:49:04 There's another shot of the 3 vectors 2 of those veterans were on my bus.
10:49:10 We were assigned a bus when we started this trip, and we were told to stay on that same bus and sit in the same seat and behave yourself.
10:49:22 I did the next visit this morning, that I think this was Wednesday morning.
10:49:32 The next visit was to the Korean Memorial.
10:49:38 This is a walkway leading to the flying pole, and on the left you can see some bronze sculptures.
10:49:48 Those are a little bit larger than life size, sculptures of military personnel.
10:49:55 They're at full uniform they're in battle gear. They're wearing they're carrying their weapons or caring whatever they did It's a very moving sculpture it's a very
10:50:09 moving memorial, and that's our group walking getting ready to walk towards the flying whole.
10:50:21 This to me was
10:50:28 Was an honor. I was given the honor of helping place a wreath.
10:50:37 You can see the wreath there at the memorial.
10:50:40 This is the gauntlet that we walk through we're at the far end, getting ready to walk carrying the wreath to the memorial, and everyone stood.
10:50:52 Everyone clapped, everyone cheered, and it was really, it was inspiring.
10:50:58 There's the contingent of world war 2 excuse me Korean war veterans that attended this particular reflane and i'm one of those 3 saluting There's another shot of us that was
10:51:16 it's hard to explain and it's not just me that feels this way.
10:51:24 It's every veteran that i've ever come in contact with ever spoken with feel the same way, you know, when we're either enlist or we're drafted I was drafted in 1,950
10:51:40 2. The Korean War started in 1,950 in Iran to 1,953, almost 1954.
10:51:50 And I was in Second year college, and I volunteered for the draft.
10:51:55 I wanted to get it over, but I knew that I was going to have to go singer, so I volunteered, and I was drafted, and when you're inducted in the service, whether you volunteer or whether you are
10:52:08 drafted. You take him oath, and I think I believe every veteran who takes the oath never forgets it.
10:52:17 And you adhere to that oath throughout your lifetime.
10:52:21 Yeah. Well, our question, all of these 9 Korean vets were just mesmerized by what was showing to them, and the tributes that were paid for their service.
10:52:36 And it is it's inspiring that's another shot you can just barely see off to the upper left hand corner.
10:52:44 The sculptures and they're walking across a little grass area there, coming out of the woods, and it's really all the names are on the back panel by period.
10:53:00 I can't say enough about it the next visit was to the Vietnam.
10:53:09 Wall. I don't know how many people here have been to Washington.
10:53:13 I know Wilma has Wilma went John you have good. so you probably have seen these things.
10:53:20 You know what i'm talking about or maybe have an idea of what I'm talking about.
10:53:27 The Vietnam wall is mesmerizing it's. it's a black granite wall kind of in a V shape.
10:53:38 These are all the Vietnam vets that you see there now.
10:53:44