Veterans who fly to Washington, D.C. with Honor Flight Chicago and are recognized for their service are asked afterward if they would be willing to share their experience with other veterans who haven’t yet received their day of honor.
Many veterans say yes. Others cite health issues as a reason they’d rather not speak.
Then there is Richard “Buster” Strauss, a Korean War veteran, who wouldn’t let a lost larynx prevent him from speaking about his memorable day.
Strauss was a corporal in the U.S. Army who served in Korea with combat engineers as a radio operator. He said there were several memorable parts of his recent Honor Flight Chicago trip to Washington, from the guardian assigned to him for the day (“my guardian angel and personal guide to the sights”), to the reception at Dulles Airport that was “much-appreciated and unexpected,” to the Welcome Home Celebration.
“At Midway, it totally blew me away and to tears of joy,”Strauss recalled. “The final walk from the plane through all the people welcoming all of us” was especially meaningful to him. “A far cry from when I was discharged in October 1952 and met by three people – my dad, mother and fiancé!”
For someone for whom speech no longer comes as easily as it does to most of us, Strauss doesn’t seem to have much difficulty serving as an “honorary ambassador” for Honor Flight Chicago. If another veteran asked him about Honor Flight Chicago, “I would tell them to sign up ASAP,” he said. “My sister, a Marine in World War II, has taken my advice and is scheduled to fly in September.”
Many people know little of or don’t remember U.S. veterans’ service – and sacrifice – in Korea from 1950-53. About his Honor Flight Chicago Day of Honor, Buster Strauss said it “made me realize that I was only one small part of the ongoing effort to bring peace to the Koreas.”