University Relations - Communications
May 18, 2016

A group totaling two dozen will accompany 25 World War II and Korean War veterans on a trip this weekend to Washington, D.C.

A group of University of Arizona student veterans and employees will accompany 25 World War II and Korean War veterans on a trip this week to Washington, D.C., with the group serving as guardians while the military veterans visit memorials built in honor of service.

All told, 19 student veterans and five employees are participating in the trip, which is being funded by philanthropist Chandler Warden's Bert W. Martin Foundation. Warden also will accompany the group on the trip, to be held May 21-23. A "Welcome Home Vets" event will be held May 23 at about 6:30 p.m. when the group returns at the American Airlines ticket counters at Tucson International Airport.

Duan Copeland, a graduate assistant for the UA's Veteran Education and Transition Services, will serve as a guardian.

"I see this as an opportunity to bridge the generational gap, serve those who served and learn a bit about our country's history," said Copeland, who is a U.S. Army veteran in the Professional Science Master's in Applied Biosciences program.

In October, the foundation supported UA students Sean Rambaran and Tim Ashcraft, both of the Army, to serve as guardians on an Honor Flight, also to accompany World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington, D.C.

First organized in 2005, Honor Flight is a national network with about 130 hubs across the U.S. Honor Flight hubs are nonprofit organizations whose mission is to provide a trip of honor for veterans at no cost to them.

Others from the UA attending as guardians include: Lindsay Dearing, a UA South applied sciences student with an emphasis in human services, who served for a dozen years in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence instructor at Fort Huachuca and as a jumpmaster with the 82nd Airborne Division, having also served four times in Afghanistan; U.S. Army Sgt. Bryan Kelsey, who is studying nutritional sciences and biochemistry at the UA and served in Iraq; and Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health student Dinorah Jaime, who served for 10 years as a U.S. Air Force Security Forces active duty member and is currently an Air Force reservist at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

This is the first time for Jaime to serve as a guardian on an Honor Flight.

"After learning the history of the obstacles prior veterans had to overcome upon their return from their time at the Korean and Vietnam wars, I have a great gratitude for their service and sacrifice, for it's something I never experienced," said Jaime, who served 14 years as a military police officer in the U.S. Air Force and just graduated with a degree in public health. "When I came home I was met with the most utter respect and support. I am looking forward to spending time with them and hopefully developing a sense of camaraderie."

By Ellen Sussman Special to the Green Valley News

Chandler Warden

Chandler Warden's family has a long history of giving away money to organizations in Southern Arizona through their Bert W. Martin Foundation.

This year, they extended their reach across history itself, all the way back to World War II.

The foundation is funding 25 guardians to take WWII and Korean War veterans on Honor Flight, a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., to see the memorials built in their honor. The veterans fly free, the guardians pay about $1,000 each.
Warden, who lives in Oro Valley, helps oversee the foundation funding the 24 guardians, who are all veterans attending the University of Arizona. They all belong to the UA Student Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program, one of several national non-profit groups the Martin Foundation backs.

Warden, 65, will join them as a guardian on the May 21-23 trip, marking the 21st flight for Honor Flight Southern Arizona since it formed in 2011. With this flight, a total of 140 World War II and Korean War veterans from Green Valley, Sahuarita and Tubac will have made the trip.

Warden’s grandfather Bert W. Martin was a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist who died in 1971. As part of his legacy, the family continues to support a variety of charitable causes.

Warden's family has a long history of military connections. His father served in the Army Air Corps during World War II; his brother served in the Navy during the Vietnam War; and a son was discharged from the Army last month.

“Our veterans are not recognized as they should be,” he said. “We need to recognize them, especially now, and it’s one of the reasons I chose Honor Flight Southern Arizona.”

He also values the VETS program because it gets recently discharged veterans back into education. He became aware of it through another philanthropic work. As a melanoma survivor, Warden started the Skin Cancer Institute at the University of Arizona in 2005. Contacts there led him to the VETS program.

He said the May trip is just the beginning of their involvement with Honor Flight, and that they will fund more guardians in the future.

“We try to help as many people and deserving agencies as possible in health, recreation and creating mentors for children,” he said. “We’re all over the map to help as many causes as we can.”

Warden said the next generation of his family is spread out so the Foundation is starting to fund in different areas of the country.

Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at

Julius Gutierrez

Korea and Vietnam Veteran

By Jerry Lujan

SaddleBrooke resident, Julius 'Gute' Gutierrez, was one of 25 military veterans who flew to Washington, D.C. Oct. 17 to see their wartime memorials. This is 'Gute's' military career.

In 1952, SaddleBrooke resident, Julius 'Gute' Gutierrez, enlisted in the United States Air Force as an Airman. He was 19 at the time. The next 20 years of Gute's career were a mixture of assignments, training and classes all related to flying. One could say that his career in the U.S Air Force was anything but routine.

He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in New York City in May 1952 and during his Basic Training at Samson AFB in upstate New York he heard about the Aviation Cadet Program. He applied for the Program and after much testing was accepted.

Upon completing Basic Training, Gute was assigned to James Connally A F B in Waco, Texas as a payroll clerk. After a year at JCAFB he was transferred to Ellington AFB, Houston to attend Navigator School. It was there he earned his Navigator Wings and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.

Gute then returned to Waco and was trained to be a Radar Observer. Completing that training he was shipped to Moody AFB in Valdosta, Georgia for 'back seat' radar training in the F-94C All Weather Interceptor. After qualifying as a Radar Observer, it was off to Elmendorf AFB in Alaska where he flew in the new F-89D All Weather Interceptor. Alaska was not yet a state.

It was in Alaska that Gute did some successful gold panning in his spare time. Gut e 'struck gold' in another sense as it was there he met his br ideto- be who was a Recreational and Occupational Therapist with the Red Cross. Gut e's future bride-to-be was Janelle R. Hill. They were married en route to Pilot Training in Florida in November 19 56. Gut e is celebrating 60 years of wedded bliss.

It was near the end of his tour in Alaska when he was alerted for the thing he wanted most, his third Aeronautical Rating to become a pilotin the USAF! This led to his move from Alaska to Florida to a civilian pilot training base with civilian instructors. It was there he was checked out in the T-34 and T-28. After the training in the T-3 4 and T-28, Gute and his new bride moved to Big Spring, Texas to Webb AFB for Advanced Jet training in the T-33. The pilot training was very intense but upon completion he received his coveted Pilot Wings. After Texas, it was off to sunny Arizona to the Fighter Gunnery School at Williams AFB for training in the F-86F. While at the Gunnery School at Williams AFB, there was an All Command Bulletin requesting volunteers for a new organization that would be called the Strategic Air Command (SAC). I'm sure everyone remembers SAC. Gute volunteered and was among the 2,000 pilots that were selected to be trained to fly a new airplane - a jet bomber, the B-47. It would be the first jet bomber in the US Air Force. It had six jet engines and carried a crew of three - a pilot, co-pilot and navigator/ bombardier and was designed to carry nuclear weapons.

Gute was scheduled to be transferred to Korea but assignment to SAC had a priority so he went to Wichita, Kansas to begin a oneyear training course on the B-47. This would be strictly classroom study to get to know the new bomber fromfront to back. Before even seeing the bomber the proposed crews had to know every inch of the plane which was being delivered as they were studying and the squadrons were being formed.

Completing the oneyear academic course and the crews assigned their airplanes, they started flying missions from Texas to Europe. The flights were ten hours long and required two refuelings en route. The refueling process for the new jets was unlike regular refueling between planes. The new jets flew at altitudes between 33,000 and 35,000 feet and were much faster than the fuel tankers KC97s, which were prop jobs. In order for the tankers to keep up with the jets, they had to descend while refueling. To add to the complexity of refueling, these missions were flown at night with celestial navigation!

When the crews were in Europe they were 'combat ready' and had to be in their airplanes within three minutes of when the 'siren sounded.' The three man crews were very close, as close as a three-person family. They had to be, as each one depended on the other to complete their missions. They spent up to 89 days on these missions before returning to Texas. Once back stateside, they flew practice missions all over the States. The crews averaged flying 200 flying hours a year,the minimum to maintain flying proficiency. This assignment to SAC lasted seven years. After his seven-year assignment with SAC, Gute volunteered for a 'different' assignment with the newly formed 'Air Commandos' whose mission was to train the Latin American Air Forces in counter-insurgency and anti-guerrilla warfare. A primary requisite was being bi-lingual in Spanish. He was sent to Hurlburt AFB in Florida to train in the B-26K airplane. When his training was completed he was assigned to a three-year tour in Panama with the Air Commandos.

The next assignment was to Viet Nam were he was to be trained and fly the C-7, a specially modified cargo plane that was used to drop supplies to the troops on the ground. The training took place in Tennessee at Sewart Air Base in Smy ra, Tennessee and afterwards Gute was off to join the 536 TAS (Tactical Airlift Squadron) in Viet Nam. When his one-year assignment in Viet Nam was over, Gute was reassigned to training on the C-141 Startlifter Training at Altus AFB in Oklahoma. After the training, his final assignment was to McChord AFB in Tacoma, Washington. He retired there in June 19 72 .

Along the way with all of his different assignments, Gute managed to have a family. His first son was born in Florida, his second, in Texas and his daughter was born in Nebraska.

Gute's strong desire to fly led to the multiple schools and assignments and his volunteering for 'different' assignments, he managed to avoid the customary administrative positions that were requisite of a normal career. He was happiest while taking part in aerial flight. If you are interested in knowing more about the Honor Flight Program, please contact Jerry Lujan.

By: Jennifer Delacruz
2:43 PM, Apr 26, 2016

More than two-dozen veterans got a warm welcome home today. World War II and Korean War vets returned from their Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C.. They spent the weekend visiting war memorials at our nation's capital and reminiscing on their time in service.

More than one hundred people gathered at Tucson International Airport to welcome home America's heroes.

"It all just brought back how patriotic Americans are," said WWII Army veteran, Bob Murray. "Whether you have a big parade or not, Americans have turned out to be real honorable and good fighters."

After serving overseas in World War II and Korea, 25 men finally got the 'thank you' they deserve.

"Most of us never had a parade, and this honor flight thing, I'm glad it's taken off."

The trip took them to our nation's capital and took them back in time.

"It brought back coming home, and calling up my old man, and he came down and I said, 'let's have a beer, dad' .He and I had never drank together, so it was fun and we became good friends after that," said Murray.

He and Thomas Duddelston roomed together during World War II. This weekend, they got the chance to reunite.

"Robert and I are toward the end of the WWII veterans, and we're both in our 90's and it was a tribute that it was very nice that we could be on," said Duddleston.

The trip served as a lasting memory for the the Greatest Generation.

"We're just proud to be Americans," said Murray. "Whether you're whoopin it up or just there for the first time, we're just proud to be Americans."

*Duddleston's trip was funded by Alexie Danna who raised the money all on her own.

By Ellen Sussman Special to the Green Valley News

We're not finished yet. Three more local World War II veterans are headed for a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., with Honor Flight. They join 137 WWII veterans from Green Valley and Sahuarita who have made the trip. Honor Flight has turned its attention to Korean War veterans, but WWII vets are still making the trip and are going to the head of the line.

Local veterans will be on flights in April and May.

In the infantry

Jim Wulliman, 91, served in the Army Air Corps from April 1944 through December 1945. He hadn’t signed up for Honor Flight until his daughter Jamie Gastell convinced him. She was in Washington in 2013, and was at one of the memorials when a contingent of Honor Flight veterans was there.

“She said it was so memorable and told me, ‘You have to go!’ She’s the one who got the paperwork,” Wulliman said. He will be on the April 23 flight.

He served with the infantry and recalls his convoy landing in Normandy and being in combat early on.

“I remember seeing a French farmer with his horse and plow stopping and getting off his equipment and hugging one of the troops when we arrived,” he said. After his division left France, they were sent to Czechoslovakia where they came upon hundreds of German troops.

“They wanted to surrender to the U.S. because they wanted to be safe. They didn’t want to surrender to the Russians,” Wulliman said.

As a clarinetist with the Army Air Corps, he recalls giving a concert with two guitarists, a bass player and a vocalist.

“The next day we were sent to the Battle of the Bulge."

The storm

Paul Sauve, 89, served in the Army from March 1945 through December 1946 and spent most of service time in Japan and the islands off Japan. He will join Wulliman on the April flight.

The only times he felt in great danger was during hurricane season when he was aboard a ship for three days in the Pacific.

“Anchors got loose, planes aboard the ship were lost. That’s what got my attention the most during the whole time,” he recalled. “The ship almost went down. Some ships were lost.”

A typhoon with 115 mph winds and sea swells of 50 to 60 feet swept the area in June 1945, damaging 33 ships, destroying 76 airplanes and killing six men aboard ships. A typhoon in October 1945 was responsible for sinking 12 U.S. ships, killing 36 troops and injuring 100 Navy personnel.

Sauve has seen the Vietnam Memorial but is eager to see the World War II Memorial, which opened in 2004. He said friends who went on the Honor Flight trip were very pleased and he’s looking forward to the experience.

Long career

Donald “Don” Kirkwood, 89, a resident of Quail Creek, is going on the May 21 Honor Flight trip.

He joined the Naval Reserve serving from December 1944 to October 1945, with most of his time spent in the Seattle Naval Hospital with scarlet fever. When he recovered he served there repairing radios.

In 1950, he began working as a civilian for the Army at Benicia Arsenal in the San Francisco Bay area where he installed radios in combat-ready tanks for shipment to Korea. He was also trained to work on anti-aircraft weaponry against Russians bombers.

In July 1973, the Department of Defense and the Army declared the threat from Russian aircraft to be minimal and the air defense mission was closed. Kirkwood transferred to Fort Huachuca, where he worked as chief of the Logistic Assistance Division to Army units worldwide including offices in Germany and Korea. He retired in 1982.

Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at


By Ellen Sussman Special to the Green Valley News Apr 6, 2016

On April 23, two Green Valley veterans who served during the Korean War will leave with Honor Flight Southern Arizona on trip #21 to Washington, D.C.

On May 21, five more Korean War veterans will take the trip. The trips include a total of 25 World War II and Korean-era veterans along with their guardians from Southern Arizona.

Honor Flight is a national non-profit group that takes veterans to Washington, D.C., to see the monuments built in their honor. It's free for the veterans.
The program was focused on WWII veterans for about 10 years, until most passed on or took the trip. They will continue to have priority because of their age, but Honor Flight now is turning toward veterans of the Korean conflict.

April flight

•Werner Lawson, 83, served in the Army from January 1955 to April 1957. Fluent in German, he was sent to Germany where he was a personnel clerk and interpreter.
•John “Jack” Schlaefli, 81, served seven years from March 1954 to June 1961. His first service was with the Navy followed by the Marine Corps, where he was a pilot aboard the USS Lake Champlain in the Mediterranean.

May flight

•Glenn Barrall, 80, served three years in the Army, from June 1952 to June 1955. He was in Korea for 15 months and spent the balance of his service at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

•Peter Deering, 84, served two years in the Army from October 1953 to September 1955. Nine months of his service were in Korea with the balance spent in Honolulu well before Hawaii became a state on Aug. 21, 1959.

•Cleworth “Cle” Edgar, 86, served two years in the Army, from March 1951 to March 1953, as a surveyor in artillery. He spent eight months in Korea and didn’t get to see his daughter born. When he returned home, she was five months old. Edgar received a U.N. Service Medal.

•Janet Haeger, 81, joined the U.S. Navy at 18 and served close to seven years, from January 1953 to November 1959. As a Naval Corpsman she spent days at a time in Korea picking up the wounded and transporting them to a hospital. She also served at naval bases in the United States.

•Richard “Dick” Kern, 82, served in the Army from May 1953 to May 1955. After basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., the balance of his service time was in Korea.

Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at

A concert benefitting Honor Flight Southern Arizona will be held at the Posada Java Cafe in Green Valley starting at noon. Please join us for an afternoon of great music and fun.

Posada Java Cafe is located at 665 S Park Centre Ave - Green Valley Arizona


  • BY ELLEN SUSSMAN Special to the Green Valley News - April 5, 2016
    Decades after songs from the 1940s became top hits, the lyrics and arrangements continue to provide great music to listen and dance to.A selection of the era’s top songs will be the theme for an Honor Flight benefit concert on Saturday, April 9, when the Big Band Sounds of Green Valley, directed by Richard Blickenstaff, entertains at noon with a free concert in the Shoppes at La Posada courtyard.Band member John Reitz, who served in World War II, will play a solo of “Come Fly with Me,” and vocalist Rebecca Carlson will entertain with a number of familiar favorites including “Orange Colored Sky,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Blue Skies.”“We grew up listening to and playing this kind of music, and we enjoy playing for audiences who appreciate it. We’ll have plenty of songs from the '40s era,” Blickenstaff said.Choose one of Posada Java’s comfy chairs or bring your own for two hours of memorable melodies including “Call Me Irresponsible,” “Just in Time,” “St. Louis Blues” and “Secret Love.” The Big Band Sounds of Green Valley will also play a medley of favorites — “In the Mood,” “Sing, Sing, Sing,” “A String of Pearls,” “Moonlight Serenade” and more.“It’s always great to honor our veterans because they’ve done so much to honor us. We’ll entertain with excellent renditions of classics,” said saxophonist Lance Hoopes.Mary Fisher, director of the Shoppes at La Posada, knows how much the concerts are appreciated.“At La Posada we know that making dreams come true for veterans requires a lot of resources and we want to help. The Honor Flight concert is always a very special event. The audience is peppered with veterans of all ages often wearing their service caps or other identifiers of their branch of service.”Two more Honor Flight trips are planned this spring. One leaves on April 25 and a second flight takes off in late May. Each flight will include a mix of 25 World War II and Korean War veterans who will see the World War II and other of the nation’s memorialsDue to their age, World War II veterans continue to have priority. To date — and not including the two forthcoming trips — 130 World War II veterans from Green Valley, Sahuarita, Tubac and Nogales, Ariz., have gone on the all-expenses paid trip.

    Contact Green Valley freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at

Frank Mendez

November 06, 2015 7:06 pm  •  

Attending annual reunions has helped Army veteran Frank Mendez learn more about the POWs he helped rescue from a Japanese internment camp as well as cope with his memories.

During the daring rescue at the University of Santo Tomas, Mendez’s small detachment went behind enemy lines in order to save American prisoners facing execution, he said. And considering the odds, Mendez and many others believed they would not get out alive.

“I considered it to be a suicide mission because we were a small force,” Mendez said. “And I wasn’t the only one; several of the boys thought that, too.”

Like many soldiers, Mendez, 92, has no regrets and remains humble about his time in the service.

Although Mendez was frightened, that assignment was business as usual, he says now with a warm laugh. “It was just another mission.”

Mendez was born and raised in Tucson, and with the nation slowly recovering from the Great Depression, he enlisted in the Army on Aug. 5, 1940, for financial reasons.

“Times were pretty hard and I came from a big family,” he said.

So before the U.S. entered WWII, Mendez became a soldier and persuaded a neighborhood friend to enlist with him. The two men fought side by side throughout the war and were both wounded during a battle on the streets of Manila.

He served in the 1st Cavalry Division and went through basic training at Fort Bliss, in El Paso.

Upon deployment, Mendez’s trip took about 30 days because the single-gun ship had to zigzag its way through warring seas without an escort.

The first stop was Australia, then New Guinea and eventually many hard fought battles throughout multiple Philippine cities, Mendez said.

When he heard a rescue mission in Manila was next, Mendez knew his small troop was attacking about 20,000 Japanese troops head-on.

And if they were met with any type of a counterattack, both the cavalry and prisoners would have died, he said.

Even though the troops shared their rations with the POWs, Mendez didn’t consider himself worthy of praise. And Mendez explained to the young prisoners the longstanding sacrifice of their family members was the singular heroic act.

“We’re not the heroes, your parents were,” Mendez said, “They were doing without to keep you healthy.”

One of the POWs was Liz Irvine, who wrote about her experience in “Surviving the Rising Sun.” Mendez has remained in contact with Irvine since that evening, he said.

Laura Mendez, Frank’s wife of 68 years, learns a lot about his time in the service while attending the annual reunions, she said.

“He doesn’t talk much about when he was in action,” she said.

But the memory of seeing emaciated civilians scarred him, she said. Although Frank Mendez is always impressed by the praise he receives, recalling that time still hurts, she added.

The annual gatherings are pleasant, inviting experiences, Laura Mendez added, but time and again her husband insists the survivors themselves deserve all the credit.

“It’s very warm, very nice and the people are very grateful to him,” she said. “They call him a hero, but he’s not happy with that. He calls them the heroes.”


  • John Taylor:Bab Laird

    WILLCOX -- Two local men were part of an Honor Flight last month for veterans living in southern Arizona.

    Bob Laird and John Taylor, both of Willcox, joined a group of about 25 veterans who spent three days in Washington, DC, visiting its various monuments and memorials; and  particularly their own – the Korean War Memorial.

    That’s what Honor Flight Southern Arizona does – provides area veterans of World War II and the Korean War  the opportunity to see their national memorials in Washington, DC.

    “These are the men and women who availed themselves in a national effort to keep America safe during World War II (1941 – 1946) and the Korean War (1950-1955),” proclaims their website,

    “It is now our responsibility to keep them from being forgotten, and to thank them for a job they did so long ago.”

    The Honor Flight trip includes airfare, transportation, meals, and lodging, as well as a “guardian” to watch over the veterans.

    “It was an honor – and kind of a blessing – for me to go,” said Stephanie “Sam” Mooney of Willcox, who was Laird’s guardian during the trip.

    “Just seeing their reactions and seeing the world through their eyes, and how much everything meant to them.”

    Both Laird and Taylor talked about the ceremony held prior to their takeoff from the Tucson Airport.

    “That was really something to remember -  them sending us off – all those people waving flags,” Laird told the Range News.

    Taylor called the sung rendition of the national anthem they heard “the best I’ve heard in a long time.”

    “That was one of the three times on the trip that my eyes got watery,” Laird said.

    Asked about the other two, Laird replied, “At the Korean War Memorial, I was thinking about the guys who didn’t get to see their memorial.”

    After that, it was “when I got back to Tucson and saw Jean (his wife) with tears in her eyes,” he told the Range News.

    Laird, who is 86, was in the First Marine Division serving in Korea.

    “After securing Seoul, we were going to invade North Korea,” he said. “We stormed the shore, only to find that the Army had already pushed up from the south. They told us that Bob Hope had already been there.”

    While there were some “gung ho” Marines who were disappointed, Laird said that as far as he was concerned it was “the easy way” to do an invasion.

    “It wasn’t easy after that,” he told the Range News. “We went north and it was pretty cold and pretty hairy with the Chinese.”

    As for 82-year-old Taylor, he went from Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., to Narsarssuak Air Base, on the southern tip of Greenland.

    From the sounds of it, being stationed there was no picnic, either.

    While the cold was not so much a problem, “the wind was very terrible,” Taylor said, adding,” There were days we were ordered to stay in the barracks so we wouldn’t end up in the water.”

    During last month’s Honor Flight, Laird and Taylor, as well as the other veterans, were honored wherever they landed, such as in Dallas-Fort Worth.

    “We were honored there by people and bands and flags,” said Laird, adding that in Baltimore “we were greeted there, too.”

    From Baltimore, the veterans were taken to Washington, DC the next day.

    Their first stop was the World War II Memorial, which Taylor described as “huge – a half a football field long.”

    “It was very moving,” Taylor said.

    Next was a trip to the Iwo Jima Memorial, which “gets to you real easy,” he told the Range News.

    Laird added, “Everything is so overwhelming.  It’s the trip of a lifetime, really.”

    After that was a trip to Arlington National Cemetery, where they watched the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

    “They were very snappy, doing everything right,” Taylor said.

    While they didn’t do their about faces, etc., the way they did during the Korean War, Laird said, “It was different, but it looked good.”

    Both veterans agreed that the visit to Arlington was one of the most moving aspects of the trip.

    “It’s incredible how many are buried there,” said Laird. “You just see sections of it on TV. You don’t think of it as covering half the county like it does.”

    Taylor said, “There is just one grave after another. I lost it, then I regained my composure.  So many dead.”

    “I couldn’t believe how many of our comrades are buried there, and the number is getting bigger every day,” he told the Range News.

    Laird said that the Iwo Jima and Korean War Memorials were a couple of the most moving places to him.

    “I ran into a guy who was in the Army in the same campaign as I was,” he told the Range News.

    “That would be a highlight, I guess. Most of the guys I talked to were in Korea after I was.

    Taylor said, “Besides Arlington, the Lincoln Memorial was one of the most moving things to me because of the man he was and what he did.”

    The veterans also visited Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, where Mooney bought them each an American flag made out of cotton.

    “We raised them on the flagpole at Fort McHenry,” some 86 feet in the air, then brought them down and folded them, Taylor said.

    “So each of our flags has been flown at Fort McHenry.”

    As to the guardians, Laird said, “I’ve haven’t been pampered like that since my mother did when I was a little kid.”

    Another highlight of the trip was “mail call,” named after the ritual where military overseas received letters from home.

    On their way home, the Honor Flight veterans too experienced their own “mail call,”  receiving cards and letters from friends and family, and even complete strangers.

    “When we got to Dallas, we had mail call, where we got all this mail from different people. I think Bob and I got more mail than anyone else,” said Taylor, explaining that they got “close to 200 letters,” including some from students in Willcox and elsewhere.

    “I am answering a young boy in South Tucson who asked me about being in the war,” Laird said.

    Talking about the artwork given them by some of the children, he said, “They made us feel like Audi Murphy.”

    “Honor Flight was outstanding. To me, they did everything right,”  Laird said.

    “We were honored everywhere we went. Any veteran would be proud to go on it.”

    For more information on Honor Flight, the national group’s website is

    Carol Broeder