October 7, 2015 will be a day Arnold “Bob” Sprunger and I will never forget. We had the privilege of flying on the Northeast Indiana Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. “Bob” Sprunger served in the Korean War 179th Division between 1951-1952. I was not only Bob’s guardian, but I felt very proud to represent my father the late Herman Shaffer, who served in WWII in Normandy.
Our day started with a fabulous breakfast served at the Air Guard Base in Fort Wayne. The sendoff was so appreciated by everyone on our flight. After we boarded the plane, our pilot announced that our flight was considered Priority One and the only flight to precede ours in and out of Ronald Reagan International Airport would be Air Force One. So, with applause and chills running up and down our spines, we lifted off directly to Washington, D.C. Throughout the entire flight we enjoyed patriotic music as well as flight attendants dressed in patriotic gear. The greeting at Ronald Reagan Int. Airport was excellent. Quartet singers and USO dancers filled the entranceway.
From there, we boarded four buses with special tour guides. We received a full police escort, as well as, a K-9 unit who allowed us to run every red light through town.
Our first stop was the Korean War Memorial. According to Bob, this was his most memorable moment of the day since this was where he served. We then proceeded to the Lincoln and Washington Memorials. We had a boxed lunch on our bus, and we were on our way to the World War II Memorial.
Next on our list was Arlington Cemetery with the changing of the guard. Captain (Retired) Jerry Yellin presented a wreath on behalf of Northeast Indiana Honor Flight.
We continued on our tour, driving by many famous places such as Watergate, the Federal Reserve Building and the Smithsonian, just to name a few.
The most touching moment to me was seeing where the Pentagon was struck on 9-11. Bronze plaques serve as markers for each person who lost their life on that fateful and tragic day.
The evening winded down with a boxed dinner at the Air Force Memorial. As the sun was setting, we had a gorgeous view of Washington, D.C.
Once again, we boarded our plane for our return trip to Fort Wayne International Airport. Each Veteran received one more mail call on the flight complete with cards and letters from friends, relatives, families and even complete strangers thanking them for their service.
The welcome home reception at Fort Wayne International Airport was spectacular! I challenge you and your family to be one of the estimated 2500 people to greet these great men and women home. I guarantee if you try it just once, it will move you and touch your heart, making you have a more complex appreciation for your freedom every day.
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