Local veteran tours Washington D.C. with Mid-Michigan Honor Flight
Tue, 06/06/2023 - 12:23pm caleb
Veterans visit war memorials and other sites, receive warm welcome back in Michigan
Caleb Casey | Managing Editor
John Wejrowski of Grayling and more than 70 other veterans travelled to Washington D.C. on May 17 with the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight and had an opportunity to visit several monuments and other areas of interest, but Wejrowski said one of the biggest highlights of the trip for him was the ovation the veterans received on the way home.
Wejrowski said the group – which included 75 veterans, 75 guardians, and program volunteers – flew from Grand Rapids to Baltimore for a meet and greet and then took a private motor coach the next morning to Washington D.C. to visit a series of memorials.
His daughter, Melissa Starks, went with him on the trip as his guardian.
Wejrowski served in the US Navy for nine years, completed two eight-month tours in Vietnam, and served 19 years in the Michigan National Guard.
Wejrowski said “seeing all the memorials” was a highlight for the veterans, and he said the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery was “impressive.”
“We saw that whole ceremony right up front,” Wejrowski said.
Wejrowski said he’s waited a while to go on the trip.
“My daughter put me in for it three or four years ago,” Wejrowski said.
Wejrowski said his group featured one World War II veteran, a few Korean War veterans, and the rest were Vietnam War vets.
Wejrowski said Vietnam War veterans – at the time of their service – often were not welcomed when they returned home, so when the group arrived back at Grand Rapids and received a massive ovation from people lining the hallways, it was an “emotional” event.
“It was the most emotional experience I’ve ever encountered in my life,” Wejrowski said.
Wejrowski said the veterans also received several thank you cards.
Wejrowski said in the past people have offered the phrase “thank you for your service” to veterans, but he would like to draw attention to a newer phrase of appreciation: “Thank you for my freedom.”
“It’s very truthful, if someone wants to use that, say thank you for my freedom,” Wejrowski said.
Wejrowski said he appreciates the time served by the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight volunteers to make the trip possible.
“They do this over and over and over and give up their time to do it,” Wejrowski said.
According to the Mid-Michigan Honor Flight website, two more trips are slated for this year (September 5-6 and October 10-11).
“The Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is an officially recognized Regional Hub of the National Honor Flight Network. The Honor Flight Network is a national organization with programs to transport veterans across America to see their memorials. We hope to give all of these heroes their own memorable, safe, and rewarding tour of honor, free for the veteran. Mid-Michigan Honor Flight is just one of the programs available. Visit their website at www.honorflight.org for more details on programs,” according to www.midmichiganhonorflight.org.