Employee Spotlight: Mark Wash (Claims) Accompanies Father on Honor Flight
by Mark Wash, Farmers Alliance Claims Adjuster and proud son
I recently had the chance to join my father for his Honor Flight to Washington D.C. Here’s a little bit about our experience.
The Honor Flight program is done all over the United States. Each program is a little different but the basic premise is that they honor the military veterans for their service by taking them, free of charge, to visit the war memorials in Washington, D.C. They also visit a variety of other sites, depending on the length of the trip.
Of the applications submitted, the veterans chosen for the Honor Flight are based on seniority. The oldest will go first unless there is a younger veteran who has a terminal illness, then they would get to go ahead of an older veteran. Due to the advanced age of most veterans, each veteran is required to have a guardian go along with them. The program does not pay for the guardian’s trip but it is arranged by the organization and is a very reasonable amount for all that is provided. My father, Roy Wash, is a navy veteran who served in the Korean War and I was fortunate enough to accompany him on this trip this past June.
There were 28 veterans on our 3 day trip; three World War II veterans and twenty five Korean veterans. Mike VanCampen, his wife and a few others served as the group leaders for the Kansas Honor Flight program.
The first day is for travel, getting settled in to the hotel and going over the trips itinerary. We flew from Wichita to Chicago and then on to Washington D.C. We were greeted at a couple airports with Fire trucks showering our plane with a water salute as we taxied to the gate. It was very emotional walking through airports with this group of veterans and watching the people stop what they are doing and applaud the heroes as they pass by.
The second day is when all the activities happen and it was packed full from before sunrise to after sunset. Some veterans are more mobile than others but even for the healthier ones, there is a lot of ground to cover and wheelchairs made it easier to get around in a timelier manner to be able to see more things. To encourage the more stubborn veterans that thought they could walk, Mr. VanCampen advised that if a pretty girl sees a veteran walking she will often stop to shake his hand, but if she sees a veteran in a wheelchair, she will most likely give them a hug. By the way, it takes a quite a while to unload and reload a bus with 28 veterans and 28 wheelchairs at each stop.
Our first stop included the WW II memorial, the Reflecting pool, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean Memorial and the Vietnam memorial which are all within walking distance of each other. We then loaded back up on the bus and went to Arlington National Cemetery and watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That was a very moving experience that I would recommend for anyone to see. We then went to the Iwa Jima memorial (soldiers raising the American Flag on the beach), which used to be the WWII memorial but many felt that only reflected the Pacific war and not the entirety of WWII. That is why they built a new WWII memorial by the Reflecting Pool that honors the veterans of European war as well and changed the name of this to the Iwa Jima memorial. Between stops we drove past the Whitehouse, Pentagon and various other significant places but didn’t have time to stop. We ended the day by touring Fort McHenry which is famous for our battle with the British in the war of 1812. It was that battle where Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner.
It was an amazing trip and an honor to travel with that group of war heroes. If you know of a veteran here in Kansas that would like to go on this trip, you can contact Mike VanCampen at 620-960-6733 for details.