Civil Air Patrol

Civil Air Patrol and Boy Scouts team up to Volunteer at Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

Photo taken by Capt. Jeri Gonwa – Cadet Staff Sergeant Brittany Waltho welcomed home and thanked one of the 220 WWII veterans who participated in the 12th Stars and Stripes Honor Flight from Gen. Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Wis.

Milwaukee, Wis. – With the 70th anniversary of Civil Air Patrol and the beginning of the United States involvement in WWII in December, it seemed only fitting to welcome home 220 veterans from their Stars and Stripes Honor FlightSaturday at General Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee.

What started as a field trip to welcome home these WWII veterans ended up to be a night of service for thirteen Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and Boy Scout members.

CAP members from three Milwaukee area squadrons met at the airport at 6:30 p.m. to welcome home the veterans from their Washington, D.C. trip.  When they arrived the crowds were already overwhelming the Stars and Stripes volunteers who were attempting to keep the estimated five thousand well-wishers behind roped off areas.

Committed to community service, the half dozen CAP members gladly responded to the call for help when the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight staff asked for their assistance.

When it was clear that more help was needed, Lieutenant Colonel Jo Stys, public affairs officer for Milwaukee Composite Squadron #5, enlisted the help of Boy Scouts from Troop 9 of Waukesha, St. Joseph’s Church.  Together, CAP and the Boy Scouts helped to keep spectators within the area set aside for them.

Men and women in their mid-80’s and 90’s who served during WWII were being honored with a trip to our nation’s capital by generous donations.  They had the opportunity to visit such places as the WW II and Korean Memorial, and Arlington Cemetery where they saw the changing of the guard.  The long day ended for the veterans with a home coming that they never will forget.

When the two planes landed the crowds clapped and cheered as the veterans walked or wheeled their way through the crowd to their waiting families.  Patriotic balloons and signs decorated the atmosphere and a cheer of “USA” broke out at one point of the parade.  It took the veterans an hour to walk the path of honor, shaking hands along the way.

Having front row seats for the event, the volunteers also had the opportunity to shake the hands of “the greatest generation” and thank them for their service.  Patriotism filled the air as everyone welcomed home the heroes.  Tears filled the eyes of the veterans who were astonished at the number of people who came out to greet them.

As one unidentified veteran stated as he shook the hand of grateful volunteer, “This [welcome home] is the icing on the cake.”

It was a long night for the volunteers who had earlier marched in the Veteran’s day parade.  They stood at their posts for nearly five hours, but were thankful for the opportunity to serve their community and honored to thank these veterans.

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight officials, the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, and the Gen. Mitchell International Airport facility officials expressed their thankfulness for the help from CAP and the Boy Scouts.

The following members from CAP helped during the event:

  • Major David Giffen, deputy commander of cadets, Timmerman Composite Squadron
  • Cadet Master Sergeant Travis Maxwell, Timmerman Composite Squadron
  • Cadet Staff Sergeant Brittany Waltho, Timmerman Composite Squadron
  • Lieutenant Colonel Jo Stys, public affairs officer, Milwaukee Composite Squadron #5
  • Major Dave Teddy, Milwaukee Senior Support Squadron #10
  • Captain Jeri Gonwa, director of public affairs, Wisconsin Wing

The Boys Scout members from Troop 9 of Waukesha, St. Joseph’s Church who helped during the event:  Jim Miller, scout leader, Scott Clark, Randy LaMarche, Robert Miller, Jake Kenealy, Matt Wiedenhoeft, Frank Stackhouse.

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