Photographer Courtney Lutz chats with volunteers and veterans on an Honor Flight returning from Washington, DC. Her shirt reads, “Every day is a bonus,” the motto of the Wisconsin-based Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. The term was first coined by World War II veteran and Legionnaire Joe Demler, upon his liberation from a Nazi prison camp. (Photo courtesy Freethink Media

Korean War vets join WWII vets on Honor Flight

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight will host 10 Korean War veterans along with 103 World War II veterans on a trip June 8. This flight, on one chartered Delta 757 aircraft, will take the veterans from southeastern Wisconsin on a one-day free trip to Washington, D.C., to see their memorials. This is the 18th Honor Flight mission out of Milwaukee. To date, 2,675 veterans have taken a Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

"We’re excited to transition our mission from WWII veterans to Korean War veterans this year, " says Paula Nelson, president of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight. "We will continue to give priority to our WWII veterans, but this really is a success story. Thanks to all the fabulous support we have received from the community and our loyal sponsors, we are able to raise the funds to keep flying veterans beyond our original mission of WWII veterans."

This trip will include an extended stay at the Korean War Memorial in addition to the World War II Memorial and other nearby sites like Arlington National Cemetery. For the first time, Honor Flight will stop at the Marine Barracks for an exclusive viewing of the highly acclaimed Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. This elite group will execute a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of their hand-polished rifles and bayonets.

This trip will feature some interesting pairings. There are two sets of brothers from Menomonee Falls and Sheboygan; in each set, one brother served in World War II and the other in the Korean War.

The story of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight is told in the documentary film "Honor Flight." The movie will be released nationwide on DVD this week via Amazon, where the film is currently a top-rated and best-selling documentary movie.

Honor Flight is a national program with 123 hubs from coast to coast. The World War II Memorial did not open until 2004, and many veterans are unable to visit it without assistance. According to the VA, a World War II veteran dies every 90 seconds in the United States, and the average age of a World War II veteran is 89 years old.

Nationally, Honor Flight has taken 120,000 veterans to see their memorials.