A ‘once in a lifetime experience’ on the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 2:36 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON D.C., Wash. (WLUC) - 78 Upper Michigan veterans spent an entire day in Washington D.C. Wednesday during Mission XX of the Upper Peninsula Honor Flight. Their stories filled the air during the war memorial tour of the national mall.

“Never expected to see so much in my life,” said Ernie LaFave, a Korean War veteran.

He was mesmerized by the size and detail of each memorial, especially the U.S. Air Force Memorial.

LaFave explained he was in a training camp in Arkansas after WWII where the government would decide if he would be sent to Korea or Germany.

“There must have been a thousand people out there and they called your name.”

He was sent to Germany which was a fortunate deployment in his eyes.

“I was one of the lucky. Lord must have been on my side,” he said.

LaFave spent 2 years in Germany, from 1953 to 1955.

“The Autobahn only had one lane, still bombed out from WWII, the downtown and roofs were still missing from the war.”

Ernie explained, everything the 78 veterans saw on Mission 20 of the U.P. Honor Flight, including the World War 2 Memorial, and Iwo Jima memorial, took his breath away.

The ability to share the experience with other veterans was the icing on the cake.

“Met some unbelieve, courageous people. It was really something to see and talk to,” said LaFave.

He encourages any eligible veterans to get on the list for a future mission, as he calls it, “once in a lifetime.”

Upper Peninsula Honor Flight is a nonprofit which fundraises to send all Veterans who served from 1941 to May of 1975 to see the memorials that stand to honor them. A flight from the U-P costs between $125,000 and $135,000. The entire tour is Free for veterans.

If you want to sign up or be a guardian, click here.

If you want to donate to ensure future flights like Mission 20 visit Upper Michigan click here or mail donations to Upper Peninsula Honor Flight, 7508 J Road Gladstone, MI 49837.

To order a limited edition Stormy Kromer hat with the U.P. Honor Flight logo, click here.