Lakota Staff Experience Honor Flight with Veterans

Three Lakota Staff Experience Honor Flight with Local Veterans
Posted on 06/04/2018
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Collage of three staff members with veteransThree Lakota staff had the privilege of accompanying local veterans on the May 22 Tri-State Honor Flight - a division of the national non-profit organization that transports America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials.

Kemmie Burrets, a secretary at Liberty Junior School, accompanied her 87-year-old father and U.S. Air Force veteran, Cary Ward, who served in the Korean War.

“To say it was an amazing day is an understatement,” Burrets said. “He was overwhelmed and so excited to participate in the full day’s activities. There were veterans on the trip who did not know each other before, but had an instant bond because they had gone through a terrible time in their lives together.”

Susanne Linder, a secretary a Lakota East High School, shared the experience with her 83-year-old father, George Hofmann, a U.S. Army veteran during the Cold War. While he didn’t serve in the war, the veteran has since written several books recounting the experiences of those who did.

“All the veterans are walking history lessons,” said Linder, who learned of the Honor Flight after Lakota East students and staff welcomed home a crew of veterans this past fall. “Many were not able to see the memorials dedicated to their service due to transportation, cost, time and health. Honor Flight removed all these issues and presented a well-organized and meaningful experience for everyone.”

Sally Barker, an ESL instructional aide at Lakota East High School, was the impetus behind that welcome home event. Never having been on a flight, she volunteered to be the guardian for 89-year-old U.S. Air Force Korean War veteran Larry Rowe, who didn’t have anyone to accompany him.

“It was incredibly emotional seeing them open up about their experiences,” Barker said. “For some, it was the first time they have ever spoken of what they did during the war. I now feel like I have a bond with Mr. Rowe, even though we were strangers just a few weeks ago.”

Barker and Linder described the strangers, including school children, who walked up to shake the veterans’ hands all day long and hundreds more who gathered to greet them at the Cincinnati/Greater Kentucky International Airport upon their return home that night. But one of the most touching moments, Barker said, was with two high school students.

“They came running over because they wanted to be able to thank Mr. Rowe personally and let him know they had just graduated and had joined the military!” she said.