Tom Douglas is honored with a trip to Washington, D.C.

Tom Douglas waits at the airport during his Kansas Honor Flight on Monday, May 9.

 

Tom Douglas poses with a MISSION BBQ food truck during his Kansas Honor Flight on Monday, May 9, in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Tom Douglas, right, poses for a photo with other Kansas veterans during his Kansas Honor Flight on Monday, May 9.

 

Tom Douglas stands in front of some cannons at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, during his Kansas Honor Flight on Monday, May 9.

On Sunday, May 8, Tom Douglas, an Air Force veteran, and his guardian Jesse Mitchell began their journey to Washington, D.C. for Tom’s Kansas Honor Flight trip. They started on their way to Wichita on May 8 and spent the night there. Then, they flew to Baltimore, Md., on Monday morning, May 9. They spent the afternoon in Baltimore and spent the whole day Tuesday, May 10, in Washington, D.C. They returned home to Kansas on Wednesday, May 11.

Joining Tom and Jesse on the Honor Flight were Kansas veterans of World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, plus their guardians and the Honor Flight staff members.

During the trip, they toured many places of interest, including Fort McHenry, Iwo Jima, the Navy Memorial, the World War I and II Memorials, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial and the Arlington National Cemetery.

Tom greatly enjoyed seeing all the historic places during his trip. He also enjoyed feeling appreciated for his service.

“[I enjoyed] covering a lot of ground, seeing quite a few things, given lots of historic information, all made possible by a well-planned charter airline flight. Then, to get a wonderful welcome home. Passengers at the Baltimore Airport gates applauded our group as we proceeded down the concourse, and visitors at the Washington Mall greeted us and thanked us for our service,” Tom said.

Overall, Tom’s favorite part of the trip was getting to see America’s capital.

“If I had to name one [favorite part], I’d say having a glimpse view of our nation’s capital,” Tom said. “Fort McHenry was rather impressive in many respects. I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit this Star Spangled Banner birthplace. Did you know that our national anthem has four verses? I didn’t. My shutter-happy finger was well exercised throughout the trip.”

Jesse, who has been on two honor flights as of now, enjoyed visiting the memorials and seeing the positive reactions of the veterans during the trip.

“My favorite part of this trip would be to see the smiles on the faces of all the veterans while they traversed airports and the memorials,” Jesse said. “They get treated like rock stars by many. During the trip, random people, oftentimes from foreign countries, would stop and thank the veterans for their service and sacrifice, and to let them know how appreciative they are of their service to the U.S. and the world as a whole. It is heartwarming to see total strangers take the time to acknowledge the veterans and thank them for their service. This is ‘their’ trip and they deserve all of the recognition they receive.”

About Tom Douglas

Tom served in the U.S. Air Force during a portion of the Vietnam War from 1973 to 1978. He worked as an automatic tracking radar repairman.

“I was an automatic tracking radar repairman and operator at small, remote and mobile radar installations,” Tom said. “Our crew scored simulated bomb drops [no live bombs] and relayed scores back to the aircraft crew. Although I helped with bomb drop scoring, my duty was largely with electronic countermeasures [radar jamming]. I worked in stateside radar sites, mainly in Colorado.

I served in La Junta, Colorado, with occasional TDY [temporary assignments] in Wyoming and South Dakota, each lasting several months. I had an assignment to Thailand at one point, but was canceled as I was mid-route. My enlistment spanned from 1973 to 1978; part of this being during the Vietnam era.”

Tom is honored to have been on the Kansas Honor Flight trip. He appreciates the organization for allowing him to be a part of the trip, and he appreciates Mary and Jay Herrmann for encouraging him to go on the honor flight. Tom also appreciates Jesse for being his guardian.

“I was very honored and gratified beyond description to be on this flight,” Tom said. “My many thanks to Kansas Honor Flight staff and volunteers, to Mary and Jay Herrmann, and to Jesse.

Jesse was one eager and energetic guy, bringing me my meals, giving me wheelchair rides, helping me on and off the bus, carrying my camera, and pick me up at my house and Sabetha to Wichita, among other things. What a really nice and willing guy! I wouldn’t have been able to cover nearly as much ground had I come to DC on my own. Many thanks, Jesse! Kudos to all!”

About the Kansas Honor Flight

According to the Kansas Honor Flight (KHF) website, https://kansashonorflight.org/, “The Kansas Honor Flight is an all-volunteer organization that works to honor Kansas veterans of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War by providing them with an all expense paid journey of honor and remembrance to visit their memorials in Washington, D.C. The organization also works to educate the youth and communities throughout Kansas about the impact of these historic wars and the freedoms our nation enjoys because of the service of our veterans. KHF is part of the National Honor Flight Network, an organization comprised of over 130 hubs dedicated to serving our veterans.”

According to Jesse, veterans do not pay for their honor flights – the money comes from donations. Guardians also can fundraise to cover their portion of the trips, or they can pay from their own pockets.

“The veteran never pays for their honor flight. This money is raised through volunteer organizations and donations from private citizens and businesses throughout the state of Kansas,” Mitchell said. “The guardian’s portion is either paid by the guardian or the guardian can also choose to fundraise to help pay for their portion.”

If you are a veteran, or know of a veteran who would be interested in signing up for a Kansas Honor Flight trip, visit https://kansashonorflight.org/veterans/.

Erin Herrmann99 Posts

Erin Herrmann is a reporter at The Sabetha Herald. She specializes in school board reporting, features and advertising design.

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