Honor Flight Experience

From My Great Aunt Frances

Frances Louise (Stouffer) Stewart

A picture of Frances Louise Stewart - in her nineties - still looking young
The U.S. Navy brought her to her someday husband, but then divided them apart, while he was sent to serve in the Pacific during WWII

November 2014

Greetings from Frances

I heard so many good reports about the Veterans Honor Flight to D.C.  Stan and I talked about going last year, but due to his illness that didn’t work out.  I decided to try again.  Every veteran must have a “guardian” with them, so I called Mike in North Carolina to ask if he would be interested in going with me.  I received a definite Yes!!  We were accepted to go on Monday, October 27th.  Veterans fly free of charge.  The guardians fee is $400.00.

The memorial to Veterans of World War II was completed in 2004 in Washington, DC.  A Retired Army Doctor asked a few Veterans if they would like to fly to see it – they were very excited, so he secured small planes and in 2005 twelve W.W. II veterans were flown from Ohio free of charge to D.C.  Enthusiasm was so great the project grew – today it is called the Honor Flight – 41 states are involved – there are 127 hubs from where the flights leave.  Today, over 100,000 veterans have participated.

On Sunday we went to the Lafayette Armory to a program and orientation.  We were greeted at the door and the gentlemen thanked my son for serving:  Mike said “Not me.  My mother”.  I said, “I am a Veteran of W.W. II”.  He said “Well, thank you.  There aren’t that many of you around anymore.”  That made my day.  Stan’s smart phone told him there are 1 million, 200 thousand World War II veterans still living with approximately 600 dying each day.  With over 127 million population, I guess he was right.  There were 35 W.W.II Veterans on this flight.  Two women were among the Veterans – both of us W.W. II – the other was a Wave.  So those of us who are still around have to be in our late 80s and 90s.  I am 95.  If that sounds old to you – that’s because it is.  That Sunday afternoon we were given T shirts – each veteran wore blue and the guardians wore red.  We each wore identification tags at all times.

On Monday we were at the Purdue Airport at 6 A.M. for breakfast, then boarded the plane to D.C.  While we ate breakfast the Purdue Pep Band played for us.  When we arrived in D.C. there was a fire truck on each side to spray an arch of water over the plane after it landed – that gesture is considered a high honor.  As we went into the terminal a large crowd greeted us; all cheering and waving flags.

While there we visited 6 memorials – World War II, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, the Vietnam Wall, Iwo Jima Memorial, and Air Force Memorial – all very impressive.  Our last visit was to Arlington Cemetery to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and to watch the changing of the Guard.  Very, very moving.

Around 8:30 P.M. a group of tired people returned to Lafayette – again being greeted by a huge crowd.  The World War II Veterans were first off the plane – just unbelievable how many were there to welcome us home!  There were several children (grade school).  One little girl asked, “May I give you a hug?”  so, all the children hugged me.  I loved it.  Also, there was a veteran in a wheelchair.  He had no legs.  Sad.

I am grateful I could go.  The only reason a veteran could not go, is if he or she were bed fast.  Many were in wheelchairs, some on oxygen, one man was blind.  All were treated like royalty.  In Lafayette The Gold Star Mothers work very long and hard planning these trips.  How wonderful of those women who have lost a son or daughter – and with grief still in their hearts do this.  How could we ever thank them!

I was asked to speak to the school Intermediate Groups on Veteran’s Day.  I finally consented.  Wow, I got a standing ovation!!  I think not because I was good, but because of my age (I told them I was 95).  One student went home and said to her parents; “Mrs. Stewart is 95 and she went on the stage without a cane and didn’t have oxygen either”.

Today our world is again in great turmoil, so if you are out and see a member of our armed forces – go to that person and say, “Thank you for serving”.  It would please them.  Or if you have a family member or friend who has served in the World War II, Korean, or Vietnam wars urge them to take this trip.  It would be an unforgettable day in their lives!  It was for Mike and me and Mike was an excellent guardian. 

Remember our Veterans and those men and women serving today!!

May God Bless this great country, The United States of America.

Frances Obituary can be found by clicking here.

Here is the link to the Honor Flight program, if you would like to get involved.

I was inspired to post this letter from Frances after seeing the film, “Something to Stand For”.

Hopefully, I can share more stories in days to come. Frances filled up over a century with laughter – and thought lol stood for 101. 🙂

Thanks for reading what I’m writing,

Jody Susan 🌷


I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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