You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Local veterans hit the road with Honor Flight

Group leaves from Springfield for less strenuous trip to D.C.

Jack Sullivan applied a year and a half ago for an Honor Flight, but he was more than happy to be boarding a motor home Friday for a free road trip through the organization to the nation’s capital.

“We once put a plane down in the Sea of Japan,” the 82-year-old Korean War veteran from South Charleston explained. “I think I’ll be happier with four wheels.”

Honor Flight Dayton embarked Friday morning from Springfield with 16 veterans aboard five motor homes on its 14th RV trip — a little-known alternative to an actual Honor Flight that offers a less intense itinerary and more immediate openings for area veterans who’ve longed to see their war memorials in person.

Honor Flight Dayton is the local hub of Honor Flight Network, the national organization founded in Springfield in 2005, and still based here, to fly World War II veterans to Washington, D.C.

The concept caught on, and Honor Flight now has hubs in 41 states.

Volunteers on Friday sported shirts that read on the back, “If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you can read this in English, thank a veteran.”

Whether by air or by land, a trip costs a veteran nothing, and many hubs have started accepting Korean War veterans.

“It doesn’t matter how old they are, when they get back from this trip, they have a spring in their step and a smile on their face,” said Dian Holland, a Clark County resident who coordinates Honor Flight Dayton’s RV program and was set to make her 13th road trip.

Direct combat experience isn’t a requirement to qualify for a trip.

“My combat duty there consisted of being the post baseball team’s catcher,” recalled Mike Carey, an 83-year-old Urbana resident who joined the Ohio Army National Guard in 1945, and ended up in Germany from 1952 to 1953, a time when West Germany was still under the occupation of Allied military forces.

The three-day journey to Washington and back — by comparison, a literal Honor Flight is done in a single day — began Friday like it always does, with a celebratory breakfast at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8673 on Leffel Lane for the veterans and their guardians.

Sullivan was a pre-med student at Ohio State University when he was drafted during the Korean War, but it was coincidental that he ended up serving in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, or MASH, arguably the world’s most well-known acronym thanks to the classic TV series of the same name.

“It was better than carrying a rifle,” he reasoned.

And, yes, it would’ve been remiss not to ask — was it anything like the show?

“They were all pretty crazy people,” said Sullivan, who returned home and became a doctor himself with a family practice in South Charleston.

Some veterans on Friday, like James Wilson, were making their very first trip to the nation’s capital.

Wilson, an 80-year-old Dayton resident who received the Purple Heart for his service with an infantry unit in Korea, was anxious to see the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall.

“It’ll probably bring back some bad memories,” Wilson said, “but I think I can handle it.”

This past July marked the 60th anniversary of that war’s end with an armistice that still barely remains in place to this day. More than 36,500 Americans died trying to stop the spread of communism on the peninsula.

The last time George Hyatt, 84, visited Washington, he personally met President Harry Truman before leaving for Korea, where he received the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars.

“Didn’t even get any pictures,” Hyatt said with a laugh. “Back then, we were too poor to have a camera.”

Hyatt, a native and resident of Morehead, Ky., had been en route in 1951 to Fort Meade in Maryland with two dozen other Army draftees when their train had a layover in Washington, and they all ended up at the White House.

“He wasn’t any different than talking to you. Today, you can’t even get close to the White House,” Hyatt recalled. “He said, ‘Take care of our country.’ I said, ‘We’ll do our best.’”

Hyatt’s wife, Juanita, drove her husband more than three hours to Springfield so he could take part in Friday’s Honor Flight trip.

“As long as they can get to Springfield, Honor Flight Dayton will take them,” Holland said.

Jackie Brown, president of the VFW Post 8673 ladies’ auxiliary that prepares and serves the free breakfast, knows firsthand how rewarding an Honor Flight trip is for both veterans and families.

Her father, Bill Keener, a Navy veteran from Springfield, was able to take an Honor Flight before his death last year.

“My dad was a quiet man,” Brown said. “When he came back, he wouldn’t stop talking for hours. That’s how I found out he was at Iwo Jima.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Community News

Police release victims’ IDs, reports in deadly Cincinnati nightclub shooting
Police release victims’ IDs, reports in deadly Cincinnati nightclub shooting

Police reports and emergency dispatch audio was released today from Cincinnati’s worst mass shooting that left one man dead and 16 others wounded. The victims – 14 men and three woman who ranged in age from 24 to 33 – were shot shortly before 1:30 a.m. Sunday by multiple gunmen inside Cameo Night Club, 4601 Kellogg Ave. One man...
Video captures terrifying Washington state home invasion robbery
Video captures terrifying Washington state home invasion robbery

The Sheriff's office in Snohomish County, Washington, is asking for the public's help to identify two men who robbed an Everett woman on Wednesday morning in her own home. According to police, the men broke into the home by kicking in the doors. Once inside, the two confronted the victim and ripped off her jewelry. Anyone with information is asked...
Here’s how to use Twitter's updated mute feature to prevent spoilers for your favorite shows
Here’s how to use Twitter's updated mute feature to prevent spoilers for your favorite shows

A new Twitter feature allows users to mute words, phrases and hashtags from view on timelines and in notifications, and it could mean a way out of having your favorite shows spoiled. USA Today reported that the social-media company announced the tool as a way to prevent abuse, but the ability to avoid show spoilers appears to come as an additional...
Ohio students should graduate without passing state tests, panel says
Ohio students should graduate without passing state tests, panel says

Ohio could add pathways to a Class of 2018 high school diploma that do not require any passing scores on state tests, if the recommendations made Wednesday by the state’s graduation work group are adopted. Current high school juniors would be able to earn a diploma by achieving 93 percent attendance their senior year and doing a “capstone&rdquo...
Texas van crash  kills 12, including church members
Texas van crash kills 12, including church members

Twelve people were killed and three others were injured Wednesday when a pickup collided head-on with a van carrying 14 senior members of a New Braunfels, Texas, church on a two-lane highway north of Uvalde, authorities said. The crash happened 75 miles west of San Antonio, said Sgt. Conrad Hein of the Texas Department of Public Safety. It was unclear...
More Stories