The Edmond Sun

Features

November 6, 2012

Oklahoma Honor Flights embeds reporters

EDMOND — For someone who’s used to the alarm clock going off much later in the morning, at first arising at 3:45 a.m. the morning of Oct. 24 seemed like an inconvenience. But then I thought about the schedule of World War II veterans who served in combat zones.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, 16 million Americans served during the war; by the end of the war more than 288,000 women were in the U.S. armed forces, according to the National World War II Museum. Many soldiers had the experience of sleeping in foxholes and experiencing every type of weather imaginable — jungle heat in Burma, a Scandinavian winter, African desert dryness, hail storms, typhoons. Battles were fought around the clock.

About 5 a.m., I arrived at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. Not long after that, the charter buses carrying 99 Oklahoma WWII veterans and their “guardians” (family members) arrived, escorted by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol and flag-bearing Patriot Riders. For organization’s sake, the veterans all wore blue Oklahoma Honor Flights shirts, the guardians red shirts. Volunteers called bus captains made sure all veterans got on their assigned charter bus.

After exiting the buses, a Transportation Security Administration worker welcomed the veterans with a thank you and a handshake — they also received the same warmth from Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, of Edmond, Lt. Gen. Harry M. “Bud” Wyatt III (former Oklahoma adjutant general, present director of the Air National Guard at the Pentagon), volunteer members of the Oklahoma Honor Flights ground crew, groups in the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport terminal and volunteers at the National World War II Memorial. At the end of the day they were welcomed by about 100 supporters who included family members and military service members. They came at about 10 p.m. on a weeknight to honor these heroes.

During the Miami Air International charter flight to Washington, I sat by two terrific Oklahomans — Jim Slack, of Tulsa, a risk management professional, and Joanne Olson, of Enid, a registered nurse. Jim’s dad, Kenneth Slack, of Enid, served in the Army Air Corps; Joanne’ dad, Harvey Olson, also served in the Army Air Corps.

After arriving in Washington, the first stop was the National World War II Memorial. It’s located on prime real estate between the Lincoln Memorial on one side and the Washington Monument on the other. Sunlight sparkled off the water of a large, oval-shaped pool surrounded by granite pillars. A volunteer described the meaning of the elements to one of the Oklahoma veterans and thanked him for his service.

Then it was off to other stops, which included seeing the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery and a memorial honoring the veterans who fought at Iwo Jima. A stunning statue there depicts five Marines raising the flag atop the 546-foot Mount Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945, following a hard-fought bloody battle with Japanese forces (the related famous photograph was taken by a photographer with Leatherneck Magazine). The tiny volcanic island, located halfway between Japan and the Mariana Islands, was used by the Japanese as an early warning station and then by Americans as an emergency landing strip for damaged bombers. In 36 days of fighting, 6,140 Marines and Navy personnel were killed; about 22,000 Japanese soldiers and sailors perished.

Our day in Washington ended at the National Air Force Memorial, located on a promontory in Arlington, Va. There all 99 veterans assembled for a group photograph in front of three stainless steel spires that soar skyward, the tallest reaching a height of 270 feet. More than 54,000 airmen have died in combat while serving in the Air Force, according to information from the memorial. During the war, more than 400,000 Americans were killed; more than 73,000 Americans remain unaccounted for, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Every 90 seconds, a memory of WWII — its sights, its terrors and triumphs — disappears; the men and women who defeated tyranny are in their 80s and 90s, dying at the rate of 740 a day, according to U.S. Veterans Administration figures. By 2016, there will be less than 100,000 veterans left.

This was the last Oklahoma Honor Flights trip for 2012. The next flight leaves April 17 from Tulsa. A total of three flights are scheduled in 2013 to honor another 300 Oklahoma men and women who helped change the world. More than 230 veteran applications were awaiting flights; more arrive each day. As of Oct. 6, Oklahoma Honor Flights had taken 1,005 WWII veterans on 10 flights.

For more information on how to have a veteran go on the trip or to support Oklahoma Honor Flights, call 259-9000 or visit oklahomahonorflights.org.

Businesses and individuals sponsor Oklahoma Honor Flights trips to Washington. They are too many to mention here, but they are to be commended for partnering in this effort as are the many volunteers. Honor Flight’s mission is to transport Oklahoma veterans to the nation’s capital to visit those memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifice.

MARK SCHLACHTENHAUFEN is a reporter for The Edmond Sun. He was asked by the Oklahoma Press Association to cover the most recent Honor Flight as a pool reporter for association member newspapers.

1
Text Only
Features
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 20, 2014

  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 19, 2014

  • Crazy spring weather brings frantic pleas

    It was a bright and sunny Saturday morning. Tulips were blooming, squirrels were all a’skitter, my allergy-prone nose was running ninety-to-nothing, and workmen were in my yard leaning on rakes at $18 an hour. You might know I’d be anxious to remedy that! They were waiting to get started on spreading 60 bags of mulch, which I was belatedly on my way to reserve and pre-pay so they could pick it up and get started. Rush ... rush ... rush, and oh my aching back.

    April 19, 2014

  • Oklahoma History Center new home for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame has a new home at the Oklahoma History Center. Created in 1999, the hall of fame, operated by the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, has been housed the past several years at Oklahoma Christian University but there was no available space to display photographs and information on the inductees.

    April 18, 2014

  • pink.jpg Local children win Edmond Sun Easter coloring contest

    Two local children were named winners of The Edmond Sun’s Easter coloring contest. At left, Madsion Porter, 4, daughter of Tracy Porter, won a princess Easter basket, which included a tiara, tea set, stuffed bunny rabbit and chocolate rabbit. At right, BriAnna Harbaugh, 9, daughter of Leslie Haubaugh, won a Hello Kitty Easter basket, containing art supplies, a Hello Kitty stuffed animal and a chocolate bunny.  The families also received a three-month subscription to The Edmond Sun. For your own subscription to The Edmond Sun, visit edmondsun.com, call 341-2121, or visit 123 S. Broadway.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Annual Turkish art and food festival set for April 26-27

    Raindrop Foundation is a nonprofit cultural organization that seeks to promote friendship and understanding through shared understanding and community experiences. This free event is set for 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 26 and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 27 at 4444 N. Classen Blvd., Oklahoma City.
    This year Raindrop Foundation will bring cultural entertainment and education to Oklahoma City area by presenting the Annual Turkish Art and Food Festival. The festival will feature Turkish folk dances, traditional music, water marbling art, whirling dervishes, calligraphy, traditional art of felting, China pieces as well as original arts and crafts for sale to the public.

    April 18, 2014

  • Health seminar focuses on Oklakhoma’s high suicide rate

    OU Outreach and Norman Regional Health System are offering a new health seminar titled “Circle of Care Methodology: Risk Assessment and Prevention of Suicide.” The seminar will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 24 at the Norman Regional Hospital Education Center. Suicide touches many people’s lives. This seminar focuses on the Circle of Care Methodology, which engages a holistic and mitigating approach to the issues and care that is required to address suicidal ideations, attempts, completions and the aftermath.
    The cost is $45 per person, and seating is limited. There will be free parking onsite for all seminar attendees. For more information, visit https://pace.ou.edu/en/programs/health-seminars/.

    April 18, 2014

  • Film documentary explores hunger in America

    The Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma will host a screening of the 2012 documentary, “A Place at the Table,” at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Food Bank Volunteer Center, 3355 S. Purdue, Oklahoma City. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. The story documents the struggle of food insecure people in the United States.
    Author Joel Berg will be present as a featured guest. Guests also will have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion about the issue of hunger in our communities. The screening is free, but seating is limited to 275 people. For more information, go online to www.okchurches.org.

    April 18, 2014

  • Nominations being accepted for Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame

    The Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation is accepting nominations through June 1 for inductees into the Oklahoma Military Hall of Fame. Oklahoma veterans including Medal of Honor recipients have been being honored by the hall of fame since 1999. A banquet and ceremony honoring those selected this year for the hall of fame will be Nov. 8 at the Tower Hotel, formerly Marriott Hotel, at 3233 Northwest Expressway in Oklahoma City.
    Nominees can be living or deceased. Nomination forms can be obtained by writing to the Oklahoma Military Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 30658, Edmond, OK, 73003; or on the foundation’s website at www.okmhf.org.
     

    April 18, 2014