No. 10: Area veterans take part in Honor Flight

12/20/2011

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of 10 stories counting down The Telegram's top 10 stories of 2011 as chosen by the staff of The Telegram.

Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of 10 stories counting down The Telegram's top 10 stories of 2011 as chosen by the staff of The Telegram.

BY SHAJIA AHMAD

sahmad@gctelegram.com

It was the trip of a lifetime.

For the 92 western Kansas veterans and 79 of their friends and family who made their way to Washington, D.C., the Honor Flight out of Garden City this past April was an incredible success.

That, according to the many volunteers who worked diligently and tirelessly to raise the nearly $100,000 necessary to make the trip possible.

The two-day journey — the first of its kind to originate from Garden City — was an opportunity for dozens of western Kansas World War II veterans to visit and reflect at the National World War II Memorial, the Arlington National Cemetery and a handful of museums in the nation's capital at no cost to them.

One of those volunteers who worked to raise the necessary funds was Rosemary Corbett. The Garden Citian co-chaired the Garden City Honor Flight committee and helped spearhead many local programs and fundraisers to raise the money needed: $650 per veteran to cover the costs of airfare for a private charter plane, hotel, meals and ground transportation.

Corbett, who served as a guardian for her father, World War II veteran Martin Huschka, said after returning from the trip that all the sweat, toil and tears were definitely worth the efforts from her and others.

"If that's all they ask of us, they deserve that and they deserve to see it," Corbett said. "My favorite part of the flight was just seeing their smiles — that was priceless."

On their return home, the veterans were greeted after landing at the Garden City Regional Airport by a couple of hundred people waving American flags. Many of the greeters took the opportunity to shake the veterans' hands and offer their words of gratitude.

"This was fantastic. ... I don't even feel like I deserve it," Robert Vale, a World War II veteran from Dodge City with ties to Garden City, said toward the end of the two-day trip, echoing the words of many fellow veterans who shared the sentiments.

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