Lakota East Welcomes Honor Flight

Lakota East Welcomes Honor Flight
Posted on 11/01/2017
This is the image for the news article titled Lakota East Welcomes Honor Flight

welcoming the honor flightOn October 24th, approximately 250 Lakota East High School students boarded six school buses to head to the Cincinnati/Greater Kentucky International Airport (CVG), not to board a plane, but to welcome home 68 United States veterans.

Honor Flight Tri-State is a local organization that offers Honor Flights to veterans of WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Veterans, along with a family member or guardian (chaperone) travel to Washington, D.C. for the day to visit their memorials. In addition to being in the military, the veterans on Tuesday’s flight were also members of law enforcement.

During a planning session for the school’s Veterans Day program, Sally Barker, an instructional aide at Lakota East High School, suggested bringing students to welcome an Honor Flight. After greeting an Honor Flight in September, Barker thought it would be a great experience for students. Principal Suzanna Davis and the planning committee agreed.

Davis took to social media to promote the event. Barker noted that a sixth bus was added the day before the flight due to the high number of students wanting to participate. “I am still overwhelmed by the turn-out of the kids and staff members,” Davis said. Veterans were led to the cheering crowd by bagpipes and were greeted with handshakes, signs and waving flags. Lakota East students contributed to the largest crowd in the history of Honor Flight Tri-State.

Feedback from the students has been very positive, saying that they would absolutely do it again. Davis noted, “They each had their own special reason for being there and I could see the gratitude on their faces as they interacted with the veterans. Our students fully embrace the ability to give back in so many ways in our community. What a wonderful opportunity to show their thanks for the veterans that have defended our freedoms.”

Senior Ryan Jones chose to welcome home the Honor Flight because, “it (honoring veterans) is something that means a lot to me and my family, so I should go out and support others.”

Senior Adam Johantges hopes to follow in his father’s footsteps and graduate from West Point. “(The veterans) were not traditionally welcomed home...I know that this means a lot to them and being able to share this with them means a lot.”

Barker has received many messages from CVG and the ambassadors from Honor Flight Tri-State thanking the students. One veteran called to say he “had never received any type of parade...when (he) was in the military.” When the veterans were told six buses of students were waiting, they did not believe it “until (they) walked through and saw (our) students plus all the other people there welcoming (them) home.”

A WWII veteran compared his return home from the war to his experience on Tuesday saying, “I was given a packet with my papers and pay. I bought a car with the money and drove 1,400 miles to make it back home. There was no gathering, celebration, or recognition. It was just that way. This, however, I just couldn’t have imagined.”