Flight of Honor

DALLAS -- After a whirlwind trip across the country that lasted a mere 53 hours, three World War II veterans from Dallas were exhausted when their Honor Flight ended Sunday morning.Ken Jacobson, 92; Art Mosher, 91; and Virgil Trick, 96, along with 46 other veterans from across Oregon made the once-in-a-lifetime journey to Washington, D.C. this weekend."It was real tiring," Jacobson said with a chuckle "I just admire the people who herd around 50 guys that were lame and dumb and couldn't see and couldn't hear."The trio live at the Dallas Retirement Village, which helped raise the $1,000 cost for each to make the trip.This was the first time the village had sponsored any of its resident veterans to participate in the Honor Flight program.Dallas Retirement Village held a grand send off for Jacobson, Mosher and Trick on Oct. 17. Brenda Berry-Kendall/for the Itemizer-Observer Virgil Trick (left), Ken Jacobson (center) and Art Mosher visit the World War II Memorial Oct. 18 during their two-day trip to Washington D.C. over the weekend. A color guard, dozens of guests and a few patriotic songs bid the trio adieu for their short drive to Portland the day before the flight.The 49 veterans left Portland at 6:30 a.m. Friday and landed at Dulles International Airport outside of D.C. almost six hours later.At their one layover in Chicago and the final stop in D.C., the veterans were welcomed by raucous crowds mirroring that of when The Beetles first came to the U.S., Brenda Berry-Kendall, life enrichment coordinator at the village, said."The guys were kind of embarrassed because of the grandeur," she said. "I couldn't believe how thunderous the crowd was in Chicago. A little girl shook Virgil's hand and said, `Thank you for saving our country.'"Trick's response to that 12-year-old girl in Chicago?"I just did my part."The two-day excursion was full of interactions and receptions like those, said Berry-Kendall, who acted as personal guardian for Trick and Jacobson during the trip.Honor Flight of Oregon, which serves veterans in Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Tillamook and Yamhill counties, is part of the Honor Flight Network, the national nonprofit organization founded in 2005.The Dallas trio found out in June they were added to the October flight and a mad dash to help raise the flight cost.Sue Lamb, development director for the Dallas Retirement Village Foundation, mounted an aggressive fundraising campaign to insure the veterans had a seat. Brenda Berry-Kendall/for the Itemizer-Observer Ken Jacosbon, sitting, and Virgil Trick toured the World War II Memorial Oct. 18. "A lot of people here (Dallas Retirement Village) are from the same era. I've been getting calls from people to put their name on the list," Lamb said. "Time being what it is, and as precious as it is, we need to keep moving on this."For many, the trip was long awaited and won't be soon forgotten.For one veteran, though, it was his last.An 88-year-old veteran from Yamhill County died in Chicago during a layover on the flight to Washington, D.C.A family member was with him when he died and made funeral arrangements from Chicago."I thought that was kind of symbolic of our group," Mosher said. "Us veterans are going."Days before the group was set to leave, the federal government was still partially shut down, leaving a cloud in the air as to what the veterans would be able to visit.The U.S. National Park Service granted permits to all Honor Flight groups to enter the various war memorials, but other sites remained closed.At the 11th hour, a bill was passed that temporarily opened the government and with it, everything the Oregon veterans would want to see. A replay of the Mississippi veterans breaking into the World War II memorial was averted."I heard somebody took some bolt cutters and went in," Trick said of the former group.With the nature of the Honor Flight program, this will likely be the last trip to Washington, D.C. many veterans make.It was even more special for Mosher.Mosher's guardian for the trip was his son, Dave.Unlike the three veterans and Berry-Kendall, the younger Mosher had to pay his own way.To be able to take the flight with his dad, who is borderline aviatophobic (fear of flying), Dave would have paid just about anything."It was a long trip for a three-day turnaround, but in the end it worked best for these older guys," Dave Mosher said. "He was excited about it and ready to do it ... I'm there for him."


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