October 7, 2019 – Washington Co., WI – There are 14 veterans from Washington County on the October 19 Stars & Stripes Honor Flight.
Vietnam Navy SFM3 Terry Voss Colgate
Vietnam Army E5 Sergeant Arthur Lunde Germantown
Vietnam Marines Sgt Gregory Lueders Germantown
Vietnam Navy GMG3 E4 David Lerner Hartford
Vietnam Air Force Capt C3 Frank Wierman Hartford
Vietnam Coast Guard BM3 Anthony Montag Sr. Hartford
Vietnam Army Clarence Thomas Jr. Jackson
Vietnam Army SP4 Kenneth Waranka Richfield
Vietnam Army E4 Larry Wills West Bend
Vietnam Army Sp4 Donald Schmidt West Bend
Vietnam Navy E-4 Dennis Jensen West Bend
Vietnam Army Spc5 Mark Roegner West Bend
Vietnam Navy RD2 E5 Ronald Kostritza West Bend
Vietnam Army Sp5 Gerald Zeckmeister West Bend
This “Flight of Champions” will honor approximately 250 WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans from southeastern and east central Wisconsin with a one day, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the memorials built in their honor, and to experience a full day of honor and thanks for their service to our nation.
When the three planes arrive at Baltimore/Washington International Airport on flight day, the veterans, their guardians and team representatives will spend the day touring Washington. The tour will include the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Marine Corps/Iwo Jima Memorial, and the Changing of the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. A D.C. Park Police escort will ensure that the veterans do not spend time stuck in traffic.
“We are honored to be a part of this historic mission with our fellow pro sports teams from Wisconsin,” stated Green Bay Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “While we play different sports, we all have one thing in common, and that is great respect for those who have served, and are serving, in our military. We couldn’t be more excited to be asked to play a small role in ensuring these veterans, who are American heroes, have a great day in D.C.”
“We join the Packers and Bucks with a long-standing commitment to giving back to those who call Wisconsin home. There is no greater honor than supporting our veterans as they make this incredible Flight of Champions journey,” said Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger. “We have worked with Stars and Stripes Honor Flight on a variety of initiatives throughout the years, and we know this will be a memorable experience for both the honored veterans and all of us at the Brewers.”
“We are thrilled to welcome our veterans, guardians, and representatives of the Packers, Brewers and Bucks to this once-in-a-lifetime journey,” said Paula Nelson, president of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. “It is an honor and a privilege to finally thank this large group of local veterans who sacrificed so much, and we are thrilled to have the support and participation of our three favorite sports teams.”
“We thank our family, friends and neighbors for their bravery and sacrifice and dedicating their lives to protecting us,” said Peter Feigin, President – Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum. “The Milwaukee Bucks are proud to team up with the Packers and Brewers to create a memorable trip and experience for those who served so courageously in our military.”
Veterans that are currently scheduled to be honored on the Flight of Champions include six WWII vets (one of whom is a 96-year-old female Army typist), nine Korean War veterans, and many Vietnam War Era and combat veterans, including one who received a Purple Heart for his service.
“So many of our Vietnam War and Korean War veterans came home to disinterest, or to a hostile reception,” Nelson said. “What an honor it will be to finally welcome them home properly and hopefully replace some of those difficult memories with positive ones.”
County Veterans Service Office Directors, Joe Aulik – Brown County, and Rick Flowers – Milwaukee County, both agreed. “This honor and validation from the community, Packers, Brewers and Bucks, will encourage even more veterans to sign up for these flights and encourage them to see out their VA benefits from their local County and Tribal Veterans Service Offices.”
Prior to the October 19, 2019 Flight of Champions, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight has flown just under 7,200 local veterans on these trips to Washington since 2008, and honored more than 50 veterans locally who were not able to fly. As an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff and no offices, the organization is proud to share that more than $.97 of every donated dollar goes directly to flying and honoring veterans.
Honor Flight is a national program with more than 130 hubs from coast to coast. The WWII Memorial did not open until 2004 and many veterans are unable to visit Washington without assistance. Nationally, hubs in the Honor Flight network have honored over 222,000 veterans with free trips to see their memorials.