A heartwarming day

For Korean War veteran Michael Lindblad, the best part of his journey with Honor Flight Chicago was the people: his fellow vets, friends, family and the volunteers who helped make the day a success.

“I will cherish this day for the rest of my life,” Lindblad said. “I’d been told by one of my buddies who had been on the flight last year what to expect, but to experience first-hand what we took in was heartwarming.”

Lindblad served in the U.S. Air Force from October 1951 to October 1955, rising to the rank of Sergeant. He joined more than 100 other veterans from WWII and the Korean War during the April 12, 2017 Honor Flight. The trip took on a special meaning, he said, because he was paired with his brother-in-law, Bill, who is also a veteran.

Lindblad appreciated the efforts of all the volunteers, he said, including a nurse who looked after him. He also became fast friends with his guardian, Mike, who accompanied him in Washington, D.C. The pair planned to meet up in Chicago when Mike “comes through on his hog.”

“Honor Flight is run better than any top corporation,” Lindblad said. “The caring for the vets comes first, and little things like our dog tags, and shirts, coffee and rolls like the old USO … I want to thank all your volunteers for going the extra mile.”

Lindblad and his fellow veterans flew to Washington, D.C., where Honor Flight Chicago whisked them away on a tour of museums and monuments, including the WWII and Korean War Memorials.

“The beautiful, haunting Korean Memorial makes me think of all the young souls we lost there,” Lindblad said. They also received a special address from retired Army Gen. Colin Powell. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”

The return home capped off an emotional day, he said, as they were greeted by thousands of cheering people who attended the Welcome Home.

“If you didn’t have some tears flowing on our arrival with the bagpipes playing and the enormous crowd cheering, what more could we ask for?” Lindblad said. “The bagpipes were a wonderful welcome, and of course having your children, grandkids, wife and others close to you there was exhilarating. No matter how tired you might have been, the crowd really pumped you up.”