Appreciation soars during Honor Flight



Marvin Rediker calls his participation in Central Prairie Honor Flight #17 a trip he?ll never forget.

Rediker joined a group of about 100 other World War II veterans earlier this month at the invitation of the Honor Flight Network, a non-profit organization created solely to honor America?s veterans for their sacrifices.

Honor Flight transports the veterans to Washing?ton, D.C., so they can visit the memorials built in their honor.

?It was a privilege,? said Rediker, now in his mid-80s and living in the Salem Apartments in Hillsboro. ?I don?t know why I was selected, but I was.?

Following a banquet for the group on the evening of Oct. 5, Rediker and his fellow vets boarded a chartered plane early the next morning at Mid-Continent Airport bound for D.C. The flight also carried about 100 supporters who were there to assist the veterans.

Accompanying Rediker on the trip was his daughter, Shari Hand of Wichita, who also was the person who got her father on board. On the trip, she served as his guardian.


?I was completely ignorant of the situation,? Rediker said about the day he was told of the trip. ?I was at the doctor in Wichita one day and my daughter tells me, ?Do you know that you?re going to go to Washing?ton, D.C.??

?I was plain shocked. I didn?t think I?d ever get the chance to see the World War II Memorial. She told me, ?I don?t want you crying or anything, I just want you to know on the sixth day of October, we?re flying to Washing?ton, D.C.?

The plane landed around 10:30 a.m., D.C. time. By noon the group was in touring buses headed for the World War II Memorial.

Rediker said seeing the memorial was a moving experience. ?Every state has a monument for people who served in the war.?

Rediker said he was moved to see the Field of Stars, the wall on which the names are listed of those who served in the war.

?I wanted to read all the names,? he said, ?but we didn?t have time. World War II never had a memorial, and I feel this was a tribute to the World War II veterans.?

The group toured a variety of museums and memorials. A stop at Arlington National Cemetery left a deep impression on Rediker.

?I didn?t realize that we had that many graves there,? he said. ?The graves, they?re just in a perfect line down the row?row after row after row.


?I?ll never forget it.?

He also was impressed by the laying of the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

?Talk about sharp, they were very sharp,? Rediker said of the military personnel involved. ?When they made a turn, their heels clicked.?

Another highlight for Rediker was meeting and visiting with former Kansas senator Bob Dole, and wife Elizabeth, as well as current senator Jerry Moran.

?That was very impressive to me because they came and spoke to me just like an ordinary person,? he said. ?It wasn?t as though I was some stranger from a country that they didn?t know. I appreciated that very much.?

The following day, the group toured the National Marine Museum at Quantico and then historic Fort McHenry, the Revolutionary War site that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the country?s national anthem.

By mid-afternoon, the group was back at the airport. The plane arrived in Wichita around 6:30 p.m., where they were greeted by some 200 cheering people amid a gallery of U.S. flags.

?Some were children who were 6 and 7 years old who reached out their hands and said, ?Thanks for what you did,?? he said.

Rediker admitted he had some apprehensions about making the trip, giving the physical challenges he faces at his age.

?I had questions in my mind before we left if I was going to do all of what they were going to expect of me,? he said.

Rediker, who usually uses a walker, was informed by trip officials that he would be using a wheelchair during the trip.

?My daughter was very tired when she was finished pushing me around,? he said. ?I hated it that she had to do it, but she seemed to know that was going to happen.?

In hindsight, Rediker said taking the trip was one of the best decisions he?s made lately.

?I?ve had nine surgeries in the past six years,? he said. ?I guess maybe I should be very thankful that I was able to make the trip.

?I feel as a whole it was maybe some back pay,? he added, ?because when I was in the army my paycheck didn?t amount to very much?20-25 dollars a month.?

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