Brooklyn Park Veteran Shares ‘Life-Changing’ Honor Flight Experience
Over a year ago, Roy Whitney entered into a drawing for an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C.
Whitney, a Korean War veteran and resident of Saint Therese at Oxbow Lake in Brooklyn Park, was elated when he received word that he had been selected to fly out to D.C. in September.
The trip was provided by Honor Flight Network, a nonprofit group dedicated to transporting veterans to war memorials in the nation’s Capitol.
Whitney along with dozens of other veterans were put on board a chartered flight Sept. 11. Each veteran had the chance to bring on a loved one who would accompany them on the trip. Whitney took his daughter, Sandy Jernberg.
“When I was accepted for the trip I asked her if she wanted go as my guardian I couldn’t hold her back. She was very excited about it, I was too,” Whitney said.
During their flight to D.C., Whitney and the other veterans had a “mail call” where members of the military would receive mail as their names were called out. Whitney received a stack of letters from friends and family thanking him for his service.
“I got 47 pieces of mail. That was very emotional I had no idea this was happening,” he said.
One of the letters stood out to Whitney. It was sent from a fellow resident at Oxbow Lake, Major General Norris Einerston, who used his two-star stationary, something Whitney stated he hadn’t done in years.
The travelers spent just one day in D.C. for what was a whirlwind tour as they were put on a flight back home later that evening. During the day however, they visited nine war monuments, including the Tomb of the of the Unknown Soldier where they witnessed the changing of the guard at the Arlington National Ceremony. They even had a police escort between some of the monuments to help them get through traffic.
“It was just all in all a very educational, fun, emotional trip and I wish more veterans had the chance to go on this trip,” Whitney said.
Whitney holds a collection of items in his possession after the trip. Among them are a t-shirt which he donned throughout the tour and a hat from Honor Flight Network.
“I do have a bunch of memorabilia,” he said as he ruffled through his items. “It’s a good conversation piece.”
Beaming, Whitney also showcased his hat that he wore through the service which he brought along with him during the tour. Looking back on his trip, he began to reflect back on his years of service with pride.
“I really feel great that I was able to do it though. I wouldn’t have it any other way,” he said.
Abdi Mohamed, reporting