Honor. Thank. Inspire. An Honor Flight Chicago Podcast

Honor. Thank. Inspire. An Honor Flight Chicago Podcast

Join us as long-time ABC 7 reporter Paul Meincke sits down with our senior war heroes from WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to explore their stories and memories of serving their nation.

Episodes

December 28, 2021 28 min

Dr. David Grauer, DDS, joined the Navy late in WWII thanks to the urging of his father. After not seeing combat, he felt his military experience was not worthy of inclusion on an Honor Flight Chicago mission. For a man whose service to his country and his community extends from his time in uniform all the way into his 10th decade of life, he could not have been more mistaken.

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Jon Lapo had a rough-and-tumble upbringing in the Madison and Central neighborhood on Chicago's West Side. Looking for direction, he enlisted in the Army and soon found himself in Vietnam as a demolition man and -- for a time -- as a tunnel rat. His experiences in-country produced trauma that he lives with to this day, but he has found a purpose in life in the present that sustains him. 

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In the absolute chaos that was Omaha Beach on D-Day, 20-year-old Ray Wagner found himself twice thrown into the water before scrambling onto the sand, death and destruction all around. He himself was wounded on that beach, but less than a month later he was back with his field artillery unit as they worked their way through Belgium, Holland, France and Germany -- where his unit came upon the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. Irasc...

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On October 6, 2021, our long-awaited Operation HerStory All-Female Veteran Flight took off bound for Washington, D.C., with 93 senior heroes aboard. Come along for the ride as Paul Meincke shares the sounds and experiences of the day through the eyes of several of the women veterans who took part in this historic mission!

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WWII Army Air Corps First Lieutenant Alvin Goodman, Jr., flew 11 successful missions as a B-24 Bomber pilot before, while serving as co-pilot on his 12th, he was hit by flak and knocked out cold in the cockpit. In this episode of Honor. Thank. Inspire., Goodman describes the relatively little training pilots received before being thrown into combat, and his road to recovery after being wounded in midair. Goodman remained a flyer th...

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Retired Army Colonel Constance Love Edwards was a nurse in Vietnam during the Vietnam War, where she treated casualties coming in from the field while facing challenges related not only to gender, but race as well. In the decades afterwards, she has worked to bring recognition to the women who served in the military. On the occasion of our partnership with Operation HerStory and our All-Female Veteran Flight on October 6, 2021, we ...

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Kenny Hirata spent many of his teenage years in an Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during WWII. After resettling in the Midwest, Hirata served his country in the infantry during the Korean War. This powerful episode explores the effect of the internment camps on Hirata and his family, and how he built a life and career that culminated in his enshrinement in the Hot Rod Hall of Fame.

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On August 18, 2021, Honor Flight Chicago returned to Washington, D.C., with a plane full of 112 senior war veterans. It was the first honor flight nationwide since the start of the pandemic and the first for HFC in 22 months. Go inside the flight with Paul Meincke to experience the day with our heroes!

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After a 22-month pause in flying, Honor Flight Chicago is excited to return to the skies with its 96th flight in August of 2021. The resumption of flights to Washington, D.C., brings with it new protocols and a more urgent approach to our mission. Paul Meincke sits down with HFC Co-Directors Edna Ho and Doug Meffley to discuss those changes and more in this episode of Honor. Thank. Inspire.

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Marine Corp Sergeant Lou Covelli was among the earliest combat troops sent to Vietnam, finding himself part of 1965's Operation Starlite -- the first purely U.S. offensive of the war. Covelli volunteered for any assignment that came his way during his tour, never believing that he would make it home alive. When he did, however, the reception he received from his fellow countrymen shook him to his core. His path forward, and Hon...

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Staff Sergeant Harold Weir was struck eight times by enemy fire in 1944, but survived his wounds, subsequent capture, and five months as a POW in the infamous Stalag 17. Harold returned home after WWII and for decades stoically endured mental and physical pain that often left him unable to sleep through the night. In 2011 -- accompanied by his daughter, Donna -- SSgt Weir traveled with Honor Flight Chicago to Washington, D.C., for ...

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Bob Wilcox landed on Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944: D-Day. He survived the landing only to be cut down on "Bloody Hill" near La Haye-du-Puits one month later. After nearly a year in the hospital, Bob came home to focus on family and his career as a notable optician prior to his passing in 2020. In this unique episode, Bob's daughter Jeanny Shotas' remembrances of her father are interwoven with Bob's own words from...

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As an Army field medic throughout the Battle of the Bulge, Staff Sergeant Peter Broustis saw firsthand the brutal realities of war. For his courage under fire, he received a Bronze Star. And yet, it was the atrocities he witnessed as part of the liberation force at Dachau that truly shocked him. As Peter says, "I saw man's inhumanity to man."

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During high school, Bob Healy enlisted in the Marine Corps reserves. Soon after, Corporal Healy found himself on the other side of the world in the thick of the frozen Chosin Reservoir campaign -- one of the most brutal battles in the history of modern warfare. Hear his story of survival as one of the Korean War's "Chosin Few."

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Through 41 missions over Germany during WWII, George Behling, Jr., escorted bombers in his P-51 Mustang and safely returned home. During the 42nd, however, his engine failed -- forcing the 20-year-old to land in enemy territory and to take what he calls "the hard way home."

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During the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, Army PFC Dick Idstein was wounded. The surgeon who operated on him asked "Do you want the bullet?" Dick said yes -- and promptly sent the bullet home to his mother. That act preserved a tangible piece of history from the famous battle, and Dick used it during his career as a grade school teacher to illustrate the realities of war for his students.

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On April 15, 1971, Jim Zwit and Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division walked into an ambush in the A Shau Valley of Vietnam. Eight men in Delta Company were killed, and a severely wounded Jim was expected to be the ninth. Instead, after 20 months in the hospital, he lived. To honor a pact he made with one of the fallen, Jim set out to find the families of those eight men in what became a dec...

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Mel Copeland loves his country so much, he kissed the ground he walked on when he returned home from war during WWII. He wanted to serve his nation as a paratrooper or a pilot, but was quite literally too tall to fly -- so he became a ground crew member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen. In this first season finale of our Honor. Thank. Inspire. podcast, Mel's wisdom and deeply respectful approach to life shine through with a message...

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Honor Flight Chicago Co-Founder, retired CEO and current Board member Mary Pettinato got the idea to start an Honor Flight hub in Chicago after taking her father to see his WWII Memorial shortly after it opened. Twelve years and 95 flights later, Mary has seen it all and has so many stories to share about the impact our mission has had on our senior war heroes and their communities.

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WWII veteran Bernie Bluestein was an art student in 1943 when he saw an Army recruiting flyer posted on the bulletin board at school looking for artists to form a new outfit. He ended up as part of a unit so secret that his escapades in Europe remained classified for nearly 50 years! Now free to tell his story, hear his fascinating tale of serving with the US Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops -- the "Ghost Army" -- de...

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