Symbolic, surprising honors on first day of South Plains Honor Flight

Published: Jun. 3, 2023 at 9:17 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON, DC (KCBD) - The Texas South Plains Honor Flight completed its first day of the 2023 flight in Washington, D.C. Saturday with an unexpected visit by the Chief Master Sergeant of the United States Air Force, a fitting end to a day of thanks and honor for 87 area veterans.

An honor guard at the Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport made up of representatives from the Lubbock County Sheriff’s Office, Lubbock Police Department, Lubbock Fire Rescue and the Department of Public Safety as well as bagpiper Michael Morgan escorted the veterans, Honor Flight staff and guardians onto the plane headed to Baltimore.

This year the flight includes a special spirit, the memory of 14-year-old David Hauret. Vietnam veteran Dwayne Huseman is carrying mementos, including photos and a toy soldier that belonged to the teen who spent his short life fascinated with military service and aspirations of his own.

“It’s an honor to represent him and take him to Washington, DC with me,” Huseman said.

Hauret’s family asked Huseman, a family-friend, to take the mementos on this trip. The young man would have loved to take this flight and show his appreciation for the veterans.

“It’s very special to me, it’s very special,” Eva Corgill, Allan’s grandmother, said. “I think it’s what he would be telling them today is ‘thank you for your service’.”

Baltimore was waiting with a water cannon salute and a welcome that many of these veterans have never experienced.

“It was wonderful,” Vietnam veteran Frank Morales said. “We didn’t get anything like this when we first came back.”

The first wreath laying ceremony was conducted at the World War II Memorial. The wreath was placed at the Freedom Wall, more than 4,000 gold stars symbolizing the more than 400,000 who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

VIDEO: Christy Hartin at U.S. Navy Memorial

“Why me, why am I here,” Robert Howell, Korean War veteran asked as he placed the wreath. “I thank these people for what they gave so that I could be here today.”

Howell said leading the Honor Flight into the memorial and placing the wreath was indescribable.

“There are no words that can express the honor that it is,” Howell said.

Next, sailors from the South Plains Honor Flight led a procession into the United States Navy Memorial where a wreath was laid at the Lone Sailor statue.

Vietnam veteran Larry R. Cloud was among the sailors who answered the call for service.

“We were scared to death,” Cloud said. “There were six of us that went and we were scared to death. We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know what we were going to do.”

Cloud said it may not have been the call they wanted to answer but it was one they were proud to answer.

“They said you won’t last a few days, you’ll die,” Cloud said. “I said well you don’t know Christ like I do.”

The Honor Flight placed a final wreath at the United States Air Force Memorial on Saturday.

While the site was partly closed for construction, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass was visiting the memorial before an evening event. She thanked our veterans and gave a challenge coin to our most senior airman, Arthur Carpenter.

“It was so heartwarming that someone thinks of you in that situation like that,” Carpenter said.

Bass said she visits the memorial whenever she can, leaving the Pentagon for a moment of reflection. Visiting the Texas South Plains Honor Flight brought her to tears.

To donate to the Texas South Plains Honor Flight, click here.