Honor Flight of Oregon making its first trip since 2019

MEDFORD, Ore.– Honor Flight of Oregon is taking their first group of Veterans since 2019 to Washington D.C.

The 26 Veterans making the trip includes one service member from World War II.

The charity gives Veterans a chance to visit war memorials and other landmarks for free.

For Vietnam Veterans like Ken Pottmeyer, visiting the memorials gives him a chance to remember the people he fought with.

“Some of the names on the wall back there are names of people I know personally, and I’ll tell you what, I just get numb sometimes thinking about them,” Pottmeyer said.

This group has Veterans from Vietnam, Korea and one World War II Veteran, John Cullett.

He said on his last trip to D.C., he got to meet President Truman.

Cullett is excited to have some of his family join him this time around.

“My youngest son is going to be in baltimore, and two of my sons are coming with us this time,” he said.

The trip includes stops at each branch’s museum, including the new Army Museum.

But the program’s founder, Gail Yakopatz said she’s looking forward to visiting the Arlington National Cemetery.

“We’ve picked four Vets from this trip that will actually be placing a wreath from Honor Flight of Oregon at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” she said.

Yakopatz said these trips allow the Veterans to be recognized for their service by the public.

She said it also brings a sense of closure to visit the memorials.

Yakopatz said, “it gives them a chance, especially some of the younger Vets, the Vietnam Vets, it’s kind of a full-circle and it gives them some closure.”

Pottmeyer said closure will certainly be on his mind during the trip.

One of his fellow Vietnam Veterans passed away two weeks ago.

“We shared that experience and I’ll be thinking of him when I see that wall even though his name’s not on it,” Pottmeyer said.

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Former NBC5 News reporter Derek Strom is from Renton, Washington. He recently graduated from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communications at Washington State University with a degree in Broadcast News and a minor in Sports Management. He played in the drumline with the WSU marching band. These days, he plays the guitar and piano. Derek is a devoted fan of the Mariners, Seahawks, and Kraken.
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