Don Radlofff, a Korean War veteran from Merrill, was honored with a sponsorship for a Never Forgotten Honor Flight from the Waid Funeral Home on Thursday. Radloff spent a day in Washington, D.C. Monday, along with nearly 100 other local veterans, touring the memorials that stand in their honor.
Don said he was looking forward to the flight, which left early Monday morning and returned late that night.
“I’m looking forward to being with a bunch of veterans and the comradeship,” he said. “Maybe I’ll run into somebody that I served with.”
Don said he had seen the Korean War memorial two years ago, when it was first opened, and was most interested in seeing the World War II memorial.
“Those are the guys that really saved the future generations,” he said.
Don served in the Navy from 1950-54, repairing and supplying ships during the Korean War.
Monday’s flight was the 14th flight for the Honor Flight’s central Wisconsin hub, and carried eight veterans from Merrill, the most on any flight so far. In all, the flight carried two World War II veterans, 91 Korean War veterans and one Vietnam veteran, along with 65 guardians.
The central Wisconsin hub has thus far granted free round-trip flights to Washington, D.C. for 1,315 local veterans since its first mission in 2010. World War I veterans, the youngest of whom are now well into their 80’s, are given first priority. The flights now mostly carry Korean War veterans, who will be followed by the Vietnam veterans. Veterans with terminal illnesses are given top priority, regardless of which war they served in.
The central Wisconsin Honor Flight hub is committed to providing flights until all veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam who want to go have had an opportunity, said hub coordinator Jim Campbell. Never Forgotten Honor Flight receives no government funding and relies solely on donations to fund the flights. Campbell added that the central Wisconsin hub has been blessed with a large number of generous sponsors and donors.
“We have no problem with funding,” he said. “We have not had to do a single fund raiser, and that’s because of folks like Waid Funeral Home here that do the fund raising for us.”
Waid Funeral Home held a polka worship service in September. The collection money from the service along with money raised from a silent auction was donated to the Honor Flight. Event organizer Judy Plamann said, “It brings great joy to our hearts to be able to sponsor an honored, local veteran to be able to visit the memorials in Washington, D.C. All our veterans have given so much to our country to protect our freedom. It’s wonderful to give a little bit back to them to show our appreciation.”