Honor Flight/Audio

Reverend vet gets emotional at WWI Memorial

CREATED Nov 11, 2011

  • Print
  • Posing for the group shot at the WWII Memorial.

  • People filled Mitchell International to welcome their vets home.

  • The Honor Guard leads our vets back to their families at Mitchell International.

  • Waiting for our return flight.

  • At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier watching the changing of the guard.

  • Posing for the group shot at the WWII Memorial.

  • Wisconsin's column at the WWII memorial.

  • Flowers left at a memorial to the 101st Airborne at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • At the Women's Memorial.

  • Our welcome in Washington.

  • Relatives of one of our vets meet him at the airport in Washington.

  • Charlie Sykes shakes our vets hands as they arrive at Dulles International.

  • People in Washington DC welcome our vets at the airport.

  • Waiting to go see the sights.

  • Charlie Sykes poses with a vet.

  • Flying to Washington

  • Music for the vets as we wait for our flight.

  • Volunteers shake the hands of the vets prior to takeoff.

  • Vets and their Guardians lined up at Mitchell getting ready for their flight.

WASHINGTON DC - I met the Reverend Paul VanLoon near the wall of stars... more than 4-thousand stars that represent the roughly 400-thousand men who didn't come home.  "If I think about it on the way home, I think I'll cry," VanLoon told me as we walked through the Memorial.

VanLoon fought in the war, came home and was in sales for ten years.  He then felt the calling and went back to school to become a Presbyterian minister.

He, like so many others, spent time at the memorial remembering the men he served with who didn't come home.

"I especially remember one man who was with me most of the time and went on a ship, I was crossed off at the gang plank.  That ship was hit by a French Air Craft Carrier near the Azores.  There's a picture of him on a website, all it says is 'my friend, he's lost at sea.'"

For Reverend VanLoon, the chance to see his memorial brought out a lot of emotion.

"It breaks my heart that so many of our guys never even heard of this because they were gone before the war ended and so many others have died since the war ended.  They were equally as heroic as everybody says we were," VanLoon said.

The Reverend told me that he hoped by making the trip, the guys who never saw the Memorial could see it through his eyes.