Korean War Veterans Feel Undeserving of Hero Flights

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Grand Island, NE-- As the deadline for the first Hall County Korean War Hero Flight approaches, few veterans have applied to be able to see the memorial in Washington D.C.

Hundreds of Korean War veterans live in Hall County, however the Veterans Service Office says they haven't seen as many of those veterans as they would like sign up for Hero Flights.

Hero Flights will take veterans from the "Forgotten War" on a three day trip to visit Arlington Cemetery, placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and visiting the Korean War Monument.

The first flight will take off on May 8 and two more will hopefully be going out in September. The Veterans Service Office is calling for many more veterans to come out and apply for these trips.

"We have about 80 applications, and I'd like to see about 400 because I believe we've got a little over 400 Korean Veterans in Hall County," said Hall County Veterans Service Officer Don Shuda. "Every veteran needs to sign up for this trip! They've earned it, they deserve it and it's just, again, a small token of appreciation. So I would encourage all the families, especially at Christmas time. You want to give a Christmas gift to your Korean veteran, give them this trip."

The application deadline for the first trip is January 1.

Those Hall County Korean War veterans already signed up for Hero Flights are very excited to see their memorial.

"I've seen pictures of it a lot and I think it would be great to see just what they have done for the veterans of Korea," said Korean War Veteran Kenneth Brandt from Grand Island.

However many veterans have not signed up with some believing they are not as deserving as others.

Shuda said, "To me, a veteran's a veteran's a veteran. Every veteran deserves this trip, they've done what their country has asked of them and we encourage them to complete an application for the process."

In fact the selection process should prevent against those concerns.

"The first priority group would naturally be Prisoners of War, POWs. Second group would be Purple Heart, those wounded in combat. Combat would be the third group. And overseas duty fourth with other being the fifth group," said Shuda

Despite concerns of whether they are deserving or not, those involved with these trips are urging any and all Korean War Veterans to apply for the opportunity for a Hero Flight.

Brandt said, "We were veterans, all veterans. We went where Uncle Sam told us to go, we didn't choose and say, 'I want to Europe or I want to go to England or Korea or Japan or wherever. We went where we're assigned to go. But I think a veteran is a veteran."

Besides that, the opportunity to go on a Hero Flight may not always be available.

"We know the Korean veterans are aging as WWII veterans had," said Shuda. "The average age for these Korean Veterans is 85-86 years old and so we need to get these veterans to Washington and honor them as they so richly deserve."

Korean War veteran Kenneth Brandt had one message to veterans hesitant to sign up.

He said, "Get on the list and have a lifetime of seeing what the country has done as far as the monument goes for us."

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