As a Veteran of the Vietnam War, Chuck Rees understands delayed recognition.
“The only acknowledgment or celebration of any of us coming home was our families,” said Rees.
But this weekend on Veterans Day, Rees will finally be on an honor flight from Columbus to Washington D.C. The thought brings unexpected emotion.
“It breaks me up. What breaks me up is I get to go you know. 3-years I’ve been waiting,” he said.
For war vets like Rees, an all expense paid trip back in time to the Vietnam Memorial will unpack memories and an unexpected gift according to David Schott. And Schott would know. He’s made the trip 59-times.
As an honor flight guardian, a sort of tour guide, Schott pays for his own flight.
To him, talking veterans like Chuck into signing up for an honor flight is a way of paying it forward.
“I think it’s a service to my brothers that I didn’t see. And I like to be there to comfort them if they need it,” said Schott.
Schott says remembering the dead keeps their stories alive. And for many living veterans, the trip is also a road to healing because visiting memorials unearths painful memories many buried but never really forgot.
It is a flight and honor that School says also provides veterans of war, like Chuck Rees, a world of good.
“A lot of veterans they won’t talk about what’s happened but when you get veterans together they will open up somewhat at their own experiences,” said Rees.