Mission 86, Honor Flight Columbus, April 7, 2018

The alarm went off at 2:30. O dark thirty for sure! My 19th Honor Flight as a Guardian, and I still get butterflies from being excited. :) How could you not when you know the awesome experience that awaits?

Fellow Guardian Megan Payne and I left my house in Marysville at 3:45. At the airport, we did our usual socializing with the other Guardians, and at 5:00 the familiar whistle of Flight guru Susan Barr sounded for our Guardian meeting.

I was excited to meet Dick Hacker and Jack Boyd, my heroes for the day.

After a short while, the ground crew brought them both to me, and I knew immediately it would be a special day with two special men.

Throughout the day, they could not have been more appreciative and excited. They were in awe of all the special moments of the day, and Dick kept saying, "This is wonderful! I just can't believe it."  Some moments were scripted, like the dozens of active duty service members that met them as soon as they came off the jetway or Baltimore, or wearing the helmet of their war at the Korean War Memorial for a picture, Others moments were not, like the 8th graders from Iowa spontaneously forming a gauntlet to shake hands, or the Asian tourists who treated them like rock stars at the Korean Memorial., snapping about a thousand photos of them.

The teamwork of our great leadership and Guardians once again was amazing!  How the hundreds of pieces and parts of the giant puzzle that is an Honor Flight day all come together is a sight to behold and especially be part of.

I loved my short visits with the veterans on the flight that were not "mine". To meet them and hear their life stories is so interesting and inspiring.  It makes you wonder how you can complain about the small things in life when they have endured so much and are still so incredibly grateful and positive.

The homecoming gauntlet was one of the best I have seen, and Jack and Dick were so overcome with emotion, Jack was expecting just his sister to pick him up, but instead had a total of 8 family members there.

Dick was interview by Channel 10. I asked for his autograph afterwards.

Jack summed up his feelings with tears in his eyes when he said goodbye, "I will never forget this day or you."   Gulp.

Saying goodbye to Jack and Dick was hard, but it is really a "see you later" instead. These guys have a piece of my heart, and I will be seeing them again.

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