Rutherford Weekly

November 09, 2023

Rutherford Weekly - Shelby NC

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The 44th Blue Ridge Honor Flight that took nearly 185 participants to Washington, DC on October 14 is now history. But for the 94 veterans aboard the fl ight, the guardians and support people, the day will be etched in their minds for many days to come. The fl ight transported 84 Vietnam veterans, one World War II veteran, four Korean veterans to DC. There were six Gold Star family members with three escorts. The Blue Ridge Honor Flight also had 23 support persons of doctors, paramedics and leadership as well as 62 guardians accompanying the veterans. Among Rutherford County veterans on the fl ight were Jerry Smith, Wayne Camp, Tommy Holland, Eddy Jones, Sam Guffey, Jim Bishop, Mike Chapa and Barry Hill, who is a veteran but served as a guardian on the fl ight. Other guardians included Ralph Lewis, Patty Chapa Hammett, Lisa Barrett and Rev. Daniel Selman. Although it was a rainy day that required rain jackets and ponchos, the visits to the memorials went on as planned and the day brought joy and tears to the veterans visiting the monuments, built in their honor. "This fl ight was amazing," said Patty Hammett, who was the guardian for her dad, Mike Chapa of Forest City. "The time, the effort, the planning, the money, the people involved was unbelievable to orchestrate a day to honor our war heroes. We had people at the Washington airport waiting and Asheville airport waiting with fl ags, banners, and many people to honor them," Patty said. State Troopers escorted the buses loaded with veterans and guardians in order for everyone to stay together. "We all laughed when a trooper would have to run someone off that got in between our buses," she said. Hammett said she was blessed to have been chosen to go as her dad's guardian. "I wanted to go because he's my hero, but by the time I got home all these men were my heroes, too. I wondered many times that day what all was going through these soldiers' heads. You can pray for them and love them knowing what they lived through, some as young as 15 died as a soldier," she said. "The ones that survived, said they don't feel like a hero, they were doing their job," she said. "The guardians there were amazing also. They paid $500 each to be their guardian. Most did not know who they would be a guardian for. They have a true love for our war veterans," she said. "The veterans fought for our freedoms and are deserving of recognition. The fl ight is to help them heal, provide closure, and honor them for the job they never got honored for," Patty said. "The man on the bus in front of me said he was one of the veterans that got spit on when he came back home. As a military brat, I have always honored and loved all that have served but now, I love them even more." "I encourage all war vets to go. Also, anyone would be blessed to experience being a guardian for the day for them," Patty added. Eddy Jones of Forest City, who was in the service during the Vietnam War era, but didn't have to go to war, was impressed with how organized the Honor Flight program was down to every detail. "Their kindness and appreciation for the veterans made the trip to Washington a cherished memory. Even though we had a steady rain at the memorial ceremony, I enjoyed the camaraderie of all the veterans and of the many volunteers that made that special day happen," Jones said. "The changing of the guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery was a special occasion. "I would like to thank the people that made this trip possible, all our veterans and the ones who sent the kind thank you cards," Eddy said. Jim Bishop described the Honor Flight experience as "awesome." "I can't explain how I felt throughout the day to think about how much time and effort went into this trip to make us veterans feel special. I felt so unworthy when I viewed the WW2 Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial and thought about those thousands who didn't make it back home," Bishop said. He said the Honor Flight organization that makes the trip possible, "deserve a tremendous amount of appreciation. They made it special." Continued on page 2. ISSUE NO. 45 • November 9, 2023 ISSUE NO. 45 • November 9, 2023 • • • 828-248-1408 • 828-248-1408 Blue Ridge Honor Flight is a 501 (c)3 nonprofi t governed by a dedicated, volunteer board of directors. The mission is to transport America's Veterans to Washington, DC to visit memorials dedicated to honor the service and sacrifi ces of themselves and their friends. Donations are also appreciated in order to fl y the veterans to Washington. Make checks payable to: Blue Ridge Honor Flight, 1504 5th Avenue We West st, , He Hend nder erso sonv nvil ille le NC 28 2873 739 To donate, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or visit The need for blood is constant! Every 2 seconds someone in the US needs a blood transfusion! N.C. TRACTOR & FARM SUPPLY 299 Railroad Ave., Rutherfordton • 828-288-0395 Mobile: 828-429-5008 • SALES • SERVICE • PARTS 0% FINANCING FOR 72 MONTHS 0% FINANCING FOR 72 MONTHS --OR-- --OR-- $2,500 OFF CASH PURCHASE! $2,500 OFF CASH PURCHASE! PROUDLY SERVING RUTHERFORD, CLEVELAND, GASTON, LINCOLN, POLK COUNTIES AS THE AREAS HOMETOWN MASSEY FERGUSON DEALER. Great Selection Great Selection GC1723 • GC1725 GC1723 • GC1725 Our 31 st Year • Over 25,000 Weekly Readers 94 veterans visit 'their' 94 veterans visit 'their' memorials in Washington memorials in Washington Article By Jean Gordon. Photos Contributed. Blue Ridge Honor Flight's fall trip Veterans and guardians at the Lincoln Memorial for the offi cial welcoming ceremony in Washington, DC. They received handshakes of many of America's top military personnel in DC. Our Veterans Day Edition!

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