Menomonee Falls veterans prepare to take flight
Four Korean veterans plan to attend November Stars and Stripes Honor Flight
Menomonee Falls — Four Korean veterans from Menomonee Falls are about to take the trip of a lifetime.
Stanley Larson, James Sedivy, Rodney Seeke and Carl Waldschmidt embark on the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight on Saturday — a one-day, expense-free trip to Washington, D.C. Two planes leave Mitchell International Airport that day — one solely dedicated to Vietnam veterans, the other a mix of men and women who served in World War II and Korea.
Together, the veterans and their guardians will visit war memorials during the day before flying home to be greeted by a crowd of onlookers waiting for their arrival at Mitchell airport. This is the first year the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is flying Korean veterans. In the past, the flights were limited to WWII veterans.
There are 187 total veterans flying out that day — 45 of them from WWII, said Barb Burja, member of the Stars and Stripes board of directors.
First trip to D.C.
Larson will be one of 142 Korean veterans taking flight Saturday. Larson served in the United States Air Force and in Korea between January 1951 and January 1955. He was stationed in Korea for one year serving as a mess hall sergeant with the Fifth Air Force, 58th Fighter-Bomber Wing. Larson applied to participate in the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight in January to celebrate his 82nd birthday. The real present came nine months later when a phone call told him he would be going on the next flight. Larson has never been to Washington, D.C.
"I was so thrilled," he said. "I have never seen any of the memorials and I know I am just going to ball my eyes out."
Larson enlisted in the Air Force in 1951 because a friend suggested it.
"You're not afraid of anything at that age, you can hear all the horror stories you want and you aren't scared," he said. "You are taught one thing when you go into the service and that's you fight and protect the U. S. of A."
Larson was assigned to a bombing and support wing for ground troops when he was deployed to Korea. He worked from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week for an entire year as a night mess sergeant. The nights were long and cold. The buildings were not heated.
Larson said he was lucky because he came home. Honoring those that didn't come home is what makes the Honor Flight so special.
Honoring those who died
Going to Washington, D.C., he says, is not about him.
"It's about all of the military," he said. "It's not about the guys back home. It's about the guys that didn't come home."
The public is invited to welcome home Larson and all of the veterans at the airport on Saturday. The flight should land about 8:30 p.m.
For information about the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight, visit starsandstripeshonor
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