Veterans return from Never Forgotten Honor Flight - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Veterans return from Never Forgotten Honor Flight

Dozens of veterans are back home after a whirlwind trip on the Never Forgotten Honor Flight.

It's just one day. But it's worth it.

Im happy to be here,” said Army veteran Roman Dahlke.

Just beautiful,” added Daniel Higginbotham. “It is to me just like you're getting freedom."

Early Monday morning 83 veterans from central Wisconsin boarded a charter plane in Mosinee headed to Washington, D.C.

This is the 15th Never Forgotten Honor Flight. It's an organization that gives veterans a chance to see the memorials built in their honor. A veteran like Orv Mallak

I wasn't ready for it,” explained Orv of his decision to turn down two previous honor flights. “Now, I'm ready for it."

Mallak served in the Marine Corp.

I was all over,” Mallak said. “I did a year in Korea, then treasure island."

And the list goes on. But, while every monument is special. He says it's Iwo Jima that means the most.

We don't talk about it but we have something in common,” explained Mallak as he stood facing the Iwo Jima memorial. “You don't have to say things, you just look at each other and you know."

Around the monument there's not a lot of talking, mostly reflecting.

"I've seen them in pictures before but not really up close, and yeah, they're emotional.”

For one veteran it was a very special moment when he came to Iwo Jima and saw his friends face on the world's largest bronze statue.

I was in business with him for many years,” Roger Doran of Antigo is an Airforce veteran. But, it's here at Iwo Jima that brings him to tears.

The first time I met him he said, Roger you can ask me anything you want but don't ever ask me again. So I asked, ever see anybody die? Yes I had many die in my arms."

Doran is talking about John Bradley, also of Antigo. Bradley was a navy medic in WWII and one of the flag-raisers this memorial is based on.

Ienjoyed john immensely. He was an honorable person," remembered Doran.

Nearly 20 hours, 6 memorials, and an emotional mail call later, “Dear Jack,” read one veteran. “It was brave of you to serve."

It was a welcome home fit for these heroes.

To learn more about the honor flight, or how to sign a loved one up click here:
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