Elderly military heroes take Flag City Honor Flight to memorials

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They sacrificed their best years for their country. Now the call is out to help them fly to Washington D.C. to be honored for their service.

There is an Honor Flight leaving from Ohio on Oct. 2, but why not have a chapter here at home?

"And I thought this is it, I've really lived in a wonderful world. This is it," said John Gere.

That's how much a trip to Washington meant to Gere. At 86 years old, he had the chance to go on an Honor Flight taking him from metro Detroit to Ohio, to Washington to visit the war memorials. 

"We went to the Air Force Memorial and I thought to myself - my heart swelled up and I thought oh how wonderful," he said.

And that wonder is something that 98-year-old Charles Schwartz will get to experience thanks to the Flag City Honor Flight out of Ohio.  The non-profit is taking off the first week of October.   
The World War II vet holds on to memories of what he fought for alongside men who are no longer here.  

"I lost friends in that war," he said. "And I lost a future brother-in-law in that war."

The loss still feels raw decades later, and the one place that can lift the sadness of the moment even for a moment is Washington. Bill Bollin helps make it happen.  

"I literally had tears in my eyes running down my cheeks as I was wheeling my veteran through," Bollin said. "I have seen veterans sobbing, and I've seen veterans who are in wheelchairs actually try to get up and walk it, which is absolutely amazing."

Now the Honor Flight is hoping to open up a southeast Michigan chapter so veterans don't have to haul it to Ohio to go to Washington. They used to have a chapter but it closed down a decade ago. 

Patrick Henahan is also a volunteer, and he's doing it for family.  

"Well, the Honor Flight or something I wanted to do for my father," Henahan said. "He was a World War II and Korea Marine and unfortunately he got sick before I got around to it he passed away so I wasn't able to do it."

"I am looking forward to seeing everything and participating," said Schwartz. "I want to see what is there and what it is all about."

For Schwartz and Gere, seeing fellow veterans go to Washington but leave from Michigan, is so important.  

"It would sure be nice if we had a chapter up here that wouldn't entail that hour and a half drive," said Bollin. "Because then we might have shuttle buses that go around to the different retirement centers and different places and spend that hour and a half picking up veterans from different homes."

To learn more about The Honor Flight or to donate, tap HERE.