Honor Flight Network does right by World War II vets
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By George Malkemus  November 8, 2013 12:00 am

This coming Monday, Nov. 11, is Veteran’s Day.  I just want to give all veterans and active military participants a large thank you. My father, Gene, and his bothers, Ed, Wes, and Vic, all served in the Navy during World War II.  My father was at D-Day.  Ed and Vic have passed, but Wes, age 89, and my father, age 87 are still alive.   


Honor flight

Three years ago, my father and Wes were able to participate in a wonderful program called Honor Flight Northern California.  Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit program created solely to honor America's WW II veterans for all their sacrifices by flying these American heroes to Washington, DC to visit and reflect at the World War Memorial. The World War II Memorial was not dedicated until April 2004; nearly 60 years after the end of the war, therefore, there are many veterans who have not had the opportunity or the resources to see their country's tribute to their bravery.

Based on recent statistics, we are losing World War II veterans at the rate of 1,200 per day. With many not having the resources or support systems to undertake such a trip, Honor Flight Northern California is flying the veterans to Washington absolutely free. Trained volunteer guardians pay their own expenses to accompany themsimply for the honor of serving these American heroes. Wheel chairs and oxygen are provided as needed.

Honor Flight was initially conceived in 2004 by Earl Morse, a physician assistant and retired Air Force captain, to honor veterans he has taken care of for the past 27 years. Its sole purpose was to fly veterans to Washington to visit the memorials dedicated to honor their sacrifices.

Of all of the wars in recent memory, it was World War II that truly threatened our very existence as a nation and as a culturally diverse, free society.


Vietnam, Korea memorials

National veteran war memorials are a rather recent event.  The first was the Vietnam Veterans Memorial completed in 1982. It honors U.S. service members of the U.S. armed forces who fought in the Vietnam War. The memorial currently consists of three separate parts: the Three Soldiers Statue, the Vietnam Women's Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, typeset with 58,175 names of service members who died or were unaccounted for (Missing In Action) during the war.

The Vietnam Women's Memorial is a memorial dedicated to the women of the United States who served in the Vietnam War, most of whom were nurses. It serves as a reminder of the importance of women in the conflict. It depicts three uniformed women with a wounded soldier. The woman looking up is named Hope, the woman praying is named Faith, and the woman tending to a wounded soldier is named Charity.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated on July 27, 1995, the 42nd anniversary of the armistice that ended the war.  President Bill Clinton and Kim Young Sam, President of the Republic of Korea, dedicated the memorial to the men and women who served during the conflict.


National WWII Memorial

The U.S. National World War II Memorial is dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II.

Consisting of 56 pillars and a pair of arches surrounding a plaza and fountain, it is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on the former site of the Rainbow Pool at the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool, between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  Each pillar is inscribed with the name of one of the 48 U.S. states of 1945, as well as the District of Columbia, the Alaska Territory and Territory of Hawaii, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The northern arch is inscribed with “Atlantic” and northern end of the memorial is dedicated to the Atlantic theater with scenes from European front. Some scenes take place in England, depicting the preparations for air and sea assaults. The last scene is of a handshake between the American and Russian armies when the western and eastern fronts met in Germany.

The southern arch is inscribed with “Pacific” with scenes from the Pacific campaign on the southern side on the memorial.  The scenes begin with soon-to-be servicemen getting physical exams, taking the oath and being issued military gear. The memorial includes an engraving typical of the Kilroy graffiti: “Kilroy was here.”   Kilroy was a highly popular American culture expression during WWII, seen drawn anywhere and everywhere. Kilroy is a distinctive doodle of a bald-headed man (possibly with a few hairs) with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall.  My father told me that “Kilroy was here” was seen everywhere and that even pregnant young women could be seen wearing a “Kilroy was here” shirt.  He also said that a National Park ranger he met at the memorial thought it was graffiti when she first saw Kilroy drawn on the marble and was in the process of having him removed when she was informed of his significance.

The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message “Here we mark the price of freedom.”


How to apply or donate

Honor Flight is funded by donations from thousands of individuals who mail in $1 to over $10,000.  Honor Flight gratefully accepts donations from anyone except WWII veterans. 

If you are a WWII veteran, or know a WWII veteran, who would be interested in the Washington trip, please contact Honor Flight Northern CA. Go to www.honorflightnorcal.org or call 707-443-4880.  The next flight will be the spring of 2014. Will Rogers said it best, “We can’t all be heroes.  Some of us have to stand on a curb and clap as they go by.”  Let us give a huge round of applause for all veterans and “The Greatest Generation.”

Enjoy life and keep smiling.


George Malkemus has had a Family and Cosmetic Dental Practice in Rohnert Park at 2 Padre Parkway, Suite 200.  Call 585-8595, or email info@ malkemusdds.com.  Visit Dr. Malkemus’ website at www.malkemusdds.com.

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