2017-11-08 / Front Page

Honor Flight gives vets long-overdue recognition


Arthur Hatfield of New York at the Honor Flight Ceremony in Plattsburg, N.Y. Sept. 30. Arthur asked his son, Brian, to be his Honor Flight Guardian, a role Brian proudly played. (Submitted photo) Arthur Hatfield of New York at the Honor Flight Ceremony in Plattsburg, N.Y. Sept. 30. Arthur asked his son, Brian, to be his Honor Flight Guardian, a role Brian proudly played. (Submitted photo) By Dee Menear Irregular Staff Writer

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Brian Hatfield of Kingfield recently recalled an experience he was able to be a part of as his father’s Honor Flight Guardian. On Sept. 30, Arthur Hatfield, who served in the Army during the Korean War, joined 15 other veterans and their Guardians in Plattsburg, N.Y. for the 21st North Country Honor Flight to DC.

Honor Flight is a non-profit organization dedicated to transporting America’s veterans to Washington, D.C. to visit the memorials dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of veterans and their friends. Flights originate from hubs all over the United States, including Maine, with top priority given to senior veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam, as well as those who may be terminally ill. There is no cost to veterans chosen for Honor Flights.

As an observer, Brian said the program honored vets in a number of ways. A ceremony was held prior to the flight in which veterans received military orders to go to Washington, DC. Brian said the ceremony was well attended by government officials, members of congress and senators.

One thing that struck Brian the most was the recognition the war heroes received. “They get recognition by the community. For some of them, that was the first time their community celebrated them. In many cases, because of the way things were then, they did not get that recognition when they came home from the war. When they came home from Vietnam, they came home to booing. Before that, war wasn’t talked about so they were ignored,” Brian explained.

After a police and motorcycle escort from the ceremony to the airport and a chartered flight to DC, the vets were surrounded by clapping supporters as they were transported through the airport. “They felt like they were royalty,” remarked Brian.

“That is the first thing you see when you get back and what an awesome feeling it is,” said Retired Sgt. First Class Johnny Maynard, Commander of American Legion Post #61, who served in Iraq.

Maynard said the Honor Flight program is a fantastic program to recognize veterans. Although he is unaware of any local veterans who have taken part in the program, he said he knew of several who deserved to be nominated for a flight.

“The program is well thought out. It gives meaning for what they did. It fosters Americanism. It fosters all the values of being over there,” Brian said.

Veterans were whisked through Washington, D.C. to visit various war memorials, including Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Brian said while veterans were on the flight to DC, mail was called. Honor Flight Veterans received letters from students, community members and other soldiers that thanked them for their service and sacrifice. Brian remarked, “This generation is learning to thank our veterans. Hopefully, if a Kindergartener writes a note to an old vet, they will never forget that.”

For more information about Honor Flight, visit honorflight.org.

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