Honor Flight, Sept. 10, 2014

Chris Rush, publisher of the Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, accompanied veterans on the Sept. 10, 2014, Honor Flight. Rush accompanied the veterans on the trip, which left from Tulsa, on behalf of the Oklahoma Press Association.
The following article and photos, by Rush, are available for use by OPA member newspapers.
A list of veterans who were on the flight is available in PDF format. Please look over the list to see if a veteran from your community was on this Honor Flight trip. You may want to contact veterans from your community for a feature story and photo. To access the list of veterans, CLICK HERE.

87 veterans on Sept. 10 Honor Flight

TULSA — Following a rousing patriotic send-off ceremony at the SpiritBank Event Center in south Tulsa on Tuesday night, 87 World War II and Korean War veterans from eastern Oklahoma woke early Wednesday morning to board a charter flight bound for Washington, D.C.
The 18th Oklahoma Honor Flight carried the veterans — each with an assigned guardian — on a whirlwind one-day tour of monuments in the nation’s capitol and back.
A dozen vehicles from the Tulsa Police Department escorted the three busses carrying veterans to and from Tulsa International Airport. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett personally greeted each veteran at the airport. After landing in Baltimore, the VIP treatment continued as a detail of National Park law enforcement vehicles escorted the veteran motorcade to and from monuments, often stopping busy traffic for the charter busses.
The first stop on the itinerary was the World War II Memorial.
Dedicated to “The Greatest Generation,” the memorial celebrates “a generation of American who emerged from the Depression to fight and win the most devastating war in world history,” according to National Park Service literature. Funded mostly by private donations, the memorial was begun in September 2001 and dedicated on May 29, 2004.
Upon visiting the World War II Memorial for the first time, veteran Donald Shaub of Bartlesville was impressed with the large oval plaza’s columns surrounding a serene reflection pool and fountains.
“Its really impressive, I can’t imagine some man developing something like this in his mind and then carrying it through, ...and all the quotations that they’ve got there are really meaningful,” said Shaub. “It’s just a tremendous undertaking to cut and polish all these stones. It’s just impressive.”
One of 40 WWII veterans making the trip, Shaub served in the U.S. Army 66th Infantry Division in Europe from 1944-46. He is a survivor of a sunken troop ship in the English Channel in which 802 fellow soldiers lost their lives.
Shaub heard about the Oklahoma Honor Flight program from a friend who encouraged him to go.
“I’m glad to be here,” said Shaub. “I’ve met a few friends.”
Clad in light blue shirts, the Oklahoma veterans gathered at the base of the column bearing the “Oklahoma” inscription to pose for photographs. Before departing the monument, the Oklahomans were greeted briefly by U.S. Sen. James Inhofe.
Accompanying each of the veterans were an equal number of red-shirted “guardians.” Many of the guardians were sons or daughters of veterans sharing a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Some were volunteers who met their assigned veteran for the first time on the trip. All paid their own way to assist the veterans on this momentous occasion.
One veteran in particular had a joyful, albeit brief, encounter with his grown son at the Korean War Veterans Memorial later in the afternoon.
Korean War veteran Robert Sohl, originally from Iowa, now makes his retirement home in south Tulsa. The Air Force veteran came from a family of six brothers, all who served in the military. Now, another generation is carrying on the proud family tradition.
His son, Rear Adm. Paul Sohl, serves as commander, Fleet Readiness Centers and as Assistant Commander for Logistics and Industrial Operations, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
“We were able to make contact with him,” said the elder Sohl. “He happened to be at a meeting at the Pentagon.”
The admiral was able to get out of his meeting at the nearby Pentagon in time to meet is father at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. The father and son greeted one another and posed for photos at the monument.
“A bunch of photographs were taken,” said Robert Sohl. “That was extra special.”
Veterans were also treated to the Iwo Jim Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, as well as changing of the guard and daily wreath laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was still in store for the veterans’ return home. Once off the plane at Tulsa International Airport, a crowd of approximately 300, including friends and family members, Patriot Guard riders, the Tulsa Homeschool Orchestra, a costumed honor guard from the Sons of the American Revolution and other well-wishers formed a line of appreciation extending all the way to the exits. The crowd waved flags and warmly greeted each veteran as they made their way through the terminal.
Since 2010, Oklahoma Honor Flights has flown 1,596 WWII veterans to the nation’s capitol.
Veterans from throughout eastern Oklahoma making the trip, including one female veteran, served in every branch of service and numerous capacities during WWII and the Korean War. Another Honor Flight departing Oklahoma City is scheduled for October.
For more information about the Oklahoma Honor Flights program, log on to www.oklahomahonorflights.org.

RobertSohl

RobertSohl

WWII Memorial

WWII Memorial

Iwo Jima Memorial

Iwo Jima Memorial

WWIi Memorial Photos

WWIi Memorial Photos

CUTLINES

CUTLINES:

ROBERT SOHL –Oklahoma Honor Flights photographer Chris Humphrey, right, snaps a pic of Korean War veteran Robert Sohl of Tulsa, center, and his son, Rear Adm. Paul Sohl at the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chris Rush)

WW II MEMORIAL –Veteran and his guardian at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chris Rush)

IWO JIMA MEMORIAL –Oklahoma veterans visit the Iwo Jima Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chris Rush)

WWII MEMORIAL PHOTOS –Veteran poses for photo at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chris Rush)



Veterans receive patriotic send-off

TULSA - Some walked in, some leaned on canes or on the helpful arm of an escort, others came in wheelchairs, but all 90-plus aging military veterans entered SpiritBank Event Center in south Tulsa Tuesday night full of pride and patriotism as they were given a enthusiastic send-off for the 18th Oklahoma Honor Flight.
The flight was scheduled to depart Tulsa early Wednesday morning carrying 87 World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C. for a whirlwind one-day tour of national monuments.
But before their departure, veterans were treated to a memorable night of patriotic anthems and an opportunity for each of them to be honored publicly by name, one-by-one, for their military service to the nation. Hundreds of family and friends in the audience applauded as the veterans were praised for their sacrifice.
Students from the Thunderbird Youth Academy in Pryor served as escorts for the honored veterans during a “Parade of Patriots” and evening ceremony. Students from the Bixby High School Marine Corps JROTC formed an entry with their ceremonial swords as the veterans entered the arena to applause.
“The Oklahoma Honor Flight is an experience we give to veterans who, in most cases, are unable to visit Washington, D.C. and these memorials on their own,” said Eric Proctor, flight committee chairman and a state representative from Tulsa. “Through each of our gracious sponsors, these veterans are able to visit our nation’s Capitol expense-free.”
The 86 men and one woman — including 40 WWII and 47 Korean War veterans — were scheduled to visitthe World War II Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, the Lincoln Memorial, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery among other sites on the one-day trip.
Each veteran is accompanied on the flight by a volunteer “guardian” who has paid their own way to aid during the flight and day-long tours as needed. Ranging in age from their 80’s to mid-90’s, the veterans come from communities all over eastern Oklahoma.
Veterans were scheduled to return to Tulsa at approximately 9 p.m. Wednesday night where friends and family members would have an opportunity to welcome them back home complete with a band and color guard.
Since 2010, Oklahoma Honor Flights has flown 1,596 WWII veterans to the nation’s capitol.

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Send-off2

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Send-off Cutlines

Send-off 2 – Cadets from the Bixby High School Marine Corps JROTC provide a grand entry with ceremonial swords in honor of World War II and Korean War veterans. (Photo by Chris Rush)

Send-off 3 – Members of Patriot Guard Riders and local Boy Scouts line up to honor veterans. (Photo by Chris Rush)