Honor Flight: What an Honor!
July 3, 2018 | Express Scripts
Drew H. is a senior manager of technology learning and development working to develop the talent and skills of technology employees.
A few weeks ago, I had the honor of going on my ninth flight with the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight. No matter how many times I go, I always feel privileged to be part of such a wonderful experience.
For those who may be unfamiliar, the Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifices. It takes thousands of veterans to Washington, D.C. each year to celebrate their service and visit the monuments that pay tribute to them.
While I’ve participated in Honor Flights since 2015 – when I had the honor of being a guardian for a 94-year old World War II Veteran – a flight that occurred this past March will always stand out in my mind.
We started the day at 5 a.m., when we met at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. As the Flight Leader, I was responsible for leading a team of eight other leaders – including two EMTs – to get the 22 veteran honorees to Washington, D.C. and back safely.
Once we landed in Washington, D.C., our police escort took us to our stops, which included the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As with all Honor Flights, it was a busy day, but one that was highly worth it. Nothing compares to seeing these veterans share their stories and reminisce with each other and even with other visitors at the memorials.
One of my favorite parts of each Honor Flight happens at the airport before the return flight home. You see, the veterans all served before there was such a thing as email, so they looked forward to mail call, which was when they got letters from home. Just like when they served, we have mail call in the airport terminal during every Honor Flight, and each veteran receives a large envelope packed with all kinds of thank-you letters from friends, family members, and local schoolchildren.
My other favorite part of the day is the Welcome Home Ceremony. It’s pretty special: imagine coming home to hundreds of people who are all cheering, applauding, waving American flags, and thanking you for serving your country. The ceremony provides the proper welcome home that many of our veterans never received when they returned from war.
This March flight was extra special for me because it had several special connections to Express Scripts. This trip was named the “Express Scripts Flight,” because of our sponsorship. And Robin Wentworth, wife of Express Scripts President & CEO Tim Wentworth, graciously volunteered to be a guardian and was responsible for providing one-on-one support to one of the 22 veterans on the trip.
Tim Wentworth, our CEO, served as a special guest speaker and flag bearer in the Sea of Flags portion of the Welcome Home Ceremony. The Sea of Flags is a cordon of American flags that greet the veterans when they return from their trip. Tim was one of 10 Express Scripts Sea of Flags volunteers.
As president of VaLOR (Veterans and Leaders Organizing Resources) — Express Scripts’ veterans Employee Resource Group — I’m proud to represent Express Scripts during the Honor Flights. And as a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I’m proud to work for a company whose CEO was kind enough to participate in the Honor Flight and talk about the importance of honoring our veterans’ selfless acts of service.
If you haven’t been part of an Honor Flight, I encourage you to do it! Whether you volunteer to be a guardian, write a thank-you note, or join the crowd for the Welcome Home Ceremony, I promise that your time will be well spent.
For more information about how you can get involved with the Honor Flight Network, visit www.honorflight.org.
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