We met at the Air National Guard air strip where several volunteers and airmen served us a warm breakfast before the flight. We were given hats that represented the war we served in while on active duty and a shirt that told everyone we met that we were honored veterans.
When we arrived in D.C., there was a welcoming committee with a small band, and several people of all ages waited to greet us with warm handshakes, while some of them gave us the handshake and the statement, “Thank you for your service.” What a pleasant surprise.
We were assigned a red, white or blue tour bus that took us to several locations around town. Each bus had a tour guide who told us what we were looking at. Of course it had to be raining off and on during the day. The volunteers did have umbrellas and ponchos for those who did not plan ahead. I want to take this time to thank each and every person who volunteered to help us during the trip. A lot of us used the wheelchairs furnished. We would not have made it to some of the memorials without them.
I also want to thank everyone who gave money to support the flight, the cost of the tour buses, the snacks and the lunches we received. A lot of people spent hours putting this event together, and I am happy to see that not only veterans were helping but a lot of others gave something that will be remembered forever. I received a “throw away” camera to take pictures with and a coupon to get the film developed. Someone sure was planning ahead.
When we arrived back in Fort Wayne, we deplaned at the terminal. There was an enormous crowd waiting for our arrival. Once again it was a surprise to see that many people waiting for us, since the flight was a little late. We had the brass band and so many people just waiting to shake my hand and welcome us home.
I cannot tell you how many people, some very young ones, came up to shake my hand and tell me, “Thank you for your service.” They wouldn’t let me go pass the Girl Scout cookie desk without taking a box. A group of young students gave me a “Blanket of Valor,” which I have used many times to warm me up in the evening.
Things were going so fast I didn’t get a chance to thank everybody who gave me something. Maybe they will read this and understand how much I appreciated all of the good things everybody gave us, especially all of the warm handshakes and hugs.
God bless all of you.
James Buse, veteran
of Korean conflict, CW2,
US Army, Retired