Raymond Shilkaitis didn’t know what to expect of his day of honor with Honor Flight Chicago. What he ended up experiencing was a day that would change the rest of his life.
After arriving at Midway, the trip quickly became the most enjoyable and memorable event of his life. The staff, the volunteers, and the guardians instantly made him and the veterans feel comfortable. “You could tell it was a labor of love,” he said. “We lacked for nothing. For a moment, I thought I might re-enlist. Wishful thinking for an 87-year-old.”
Shilkaitis is a Korean War veteran who served in the Navy as a Radarman 2/C. He served on the destroyer USS Rogers. He also guarded bombers entering North Korea, and while in service, he cruised on a ship far north — 15 miles from Vladivostok, Russia.
“My feelings about being a Navy veteran have never changed. I was happy and proud then, and I am happy and proud now. This trip gave me enormous pride in being an American Veteran.”
There were countless memories that stood out to Raymond during the Honor Flight on May 10, 2017. The most impactful, though, were The Airforce Drill team performance and the Welcome Home ceremony.
“The moment I stepped out of the plane, the impact got bigger and bigger as I got close to a large group of family and friends. It was mind boggling to see so many people along the way cheering and hand-shaking with so much enthusiasm. For so many people to come out at night and in the rain was truly heart-warming.”