Emotional day in Washington D.C. for U.P. veterans

U.P. Honor Flight XXI included 76 veterans from the Korean and Vietnam Wars
The honor flight is about giving veterans a chance to see the monuments and memorials created in their honor
Published: May. 5, 2023 at 8:24 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WLUC) - U.P. Honor Flight XXI consisted of two Korean War veterans and 74 Vietnam veterans. Each veteran was escorted by a guardian. Guardians are relatives, friends, and volunteers.

Each mission is made possible by the generosity of the Upper Peninsula. The program is 100 percent volunteer and donation based.

TV6′s Elizabeth Peterson joined Wednesday’s Honor Flight Mission XXI and found the motto is true to its core: “It’s never too late to say thank you.”

It’s the simple gestures, a marquee in town with a message of support, a flag under the street lights, a spirited song, a handshake, a flag waving freely, a homemade welcome home sign.

It’s the simple gestures put together, with respect and honor, that make the experience of the U.P. Honor Flight.

“I just had a group of children come and shake my hand. There’s nothing like it, there’s nothing like it,” says Leonard Reed.

It’s been an emotional day for Navy Veteran Leonard Reed. Taking in the memorials, remembering a time so long ago. It’s been at times almost too much.

“Just being here, seeing these monuments, the wall really got to me. It’s just… I can’t really… I’ll start crying again.”

Reed is joined on this mission with his neighbor Robert Beaudry. They’ve lived next door to each other in Kingsford for 20 years.

Beaudry is Reed’s guardian on the honor flight.

A fellow sailor, this is what it’s about for him. Making sure our veterans are respected, thanked and honored, on this day and every day.

Beaudry reflects, “Serving in Iraq in 2005, when I came home, my wife and kids met me at the armory, we got back, it was the middle of winter, and him and his wife came out of the house to wish me a welcome home. In the middle of winter, at night to make sure they didn’t miss me coming home. That was awesome to me. That was respect. And I’m just returning it.”

Veteran after veteran, move through The Vietnam Memorial, the Korean War, World War II Memorials, and the Navy Memorial.

They watch quietly and with respect at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington Cemetery during the changing of the guard ceremony.

It’s overwhelming. It’s healing. It’s part of the process.

Honoring those they served with, being honored themselves and at the same time carrying the lessons and the legacy to the next generations.

U.P. Honor Flight President Scott Knauf said, “Coming on the May flight like this, you do get a lot of school groups, so it’s good for the veterans and so often in the letters after a flight, they’ll talk about the school kids that they saw.”

They’re perhaps some of the most touching moments of the trip. It’s nearly impossible to watch without tears welling in your eyes.

This is what these veterans deserve. Blind respect and gratitude - for they are the ultimate examples of duty, service and sacrifice.