I had the honor of joining Indiana Donor Network driver and Vietnam veteran Alan Geiger on an Honor Flight to visit Washington D.C. The Honor Flight is a program dedicated to sending veteran heroes out to visit their memorial for a day at no cost to them. Alan served with the Army, Air Force and Navy which included time in Vietnam. There are currently 127 Honor Flight hubs in 41 states and we participated in the Greater Lafayette Honor Flight out of Lafayette, IN.
The day started at 5:30 a.m. with breakfast in the hangar at the Purdue airport and fun music by the Purdue marching band to celebrate our departure. After a quick flight, we were welcomed at the gate by a fire truck water salute, a crowd of people, live music and decorations. Each veteran was individually thanked for their service as they walked off the plane.
We then boarded a chartered bus that was police escorted the entire day. We never had to stop for lights or traffic! Our tour visited the WWII Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam Memorial and Arlington Cemetery – all in one day.
During this trip Alan shared many funny and emotional war stories with me. He was even able to find his friend’s name that he served with on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall.
A special addition and surprise to the veterans was a personal invitation to meet the Vice President.
Our last stop was at the Arlington Cemetery where Alan participated in the wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This ceremony takes place multiple times a day honoring those soldiers that were never found. This was by far the most emotional and honor-filled portion of the day for all of us, including Alan.
After a fantastic day, we boarded our plane to head back to Lafayette, IN and landed around 8:30 p.m. Our veterans sure did get a huge welcome home! There were over 300 people cheering and flying American flags welcoming them home. I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of this day for Alan and hope he will remember his trip to Washington D.C. and his memorial forever!
To Alan and all of our veteran heroes, thank you for your service from all of us at Indiana Donor Network!
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