Mr. Martin goes to WashingtonLeonard Martin is going to Washington.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Leonard Martin is going to Washington.
He is one of a handful of Red Wing veterans taking a day trip to Washington, D.C., on April 3 to visit the nation's World War II Memorial. Southeast Minnesota Honor Flight is sponsoring the trip, which is entirely free of charge for veterans.
"These people realized there were a lot of World War II veterans who were never going to see (the memorial)," Martin said, adding he's excited to make the trip and see the memorial. "It's the only way I'll ever see it. It's really quite a deal."
Southeast Minnesota Honor Flight, founded in 2007 and based in Rochester, is an offshoot of the national Honor Flight program. The local organization has made four flights to the capital to date, giving 350 nearby veterans a chance to see the nation's memorial to them.
The organization's trips are funded by donations and are manned by volunteers who travel with the veterans. The trips begin early in the morning in Rochester, where they fly out to D.C. Veterans visit their memorial as well as see other sites, and they make it back to Minnesota by around 8 p.m. the same day.
"It's a far bigger operation than I had any idea it would be," Martin said he realized after going through an orientation. "My daughter said, 'I can see you're going to be in good hands.'"
Dale Stucki is another World War II veteran who'll be making the trip. Stucki, like Martin, has never seen the memorial. He said he went to the capital some years ago with his grandchildren but didn't see too many historic sites.
"The most important thing then was the pandas," Stucki laughed. He said he's excited not only to see the memorial, but also to go so with other veterans.
"It just sounds like an interesting trip," Stucki said. "I'm anxious to go."