Area veterans taken on Honor Flight to Washington D.C.

Glenn Pletscher
Glenn Pletscher
George Fortmeyer
George Fortmeyer

New Brighton resident Glenn Pletscher and Shoreview resident George Fortmeyer recently returned from a one-day Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.   

Pletscher, 89, enlisted in the U.S. Navy at age 19, and served from 1945-46. He was assigned to Kodiak, Alaska, as a yeoman to the admiral of the Pacific Fleet. He's one of the owners of Pletschers' Greenhouses in New Brighton and a charter member of the New Brighton Lions Club.

Fortmeyer, 87, joined the Navy on his 17th birthday in 1945, serving two years on the USS Chickasaw in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater. Fortmeyer lives at the Silverthorn Estates townhouses in Shoreview.

They and 75 other veterans received an all-expenses paid trip to Washington on May 16 to view all the national monuments, including the National World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall and the Marine Corps War Memorial that depicts the raising of the U.S flag at Iwo Jima. The group also visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall and viewed a program that honored all of the country's war veterans.

The Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization providing one-day trips two or three times a year to the Capitol for military veterans. The trips are funded solely by donations.  

Each of the three women and 74 men on the May 16 trip were accompanied by an escort, known as a guardian, who paid all his or her own expenses for the honor to accompany a veteran. The veterans were from all branches of the military services.

When the charter plane landed in the early morning in D.C., the veterans were met by fire trucks that performed the naval tradition of spraying water on the craft or plane for several minutes, as a form of welcome.  

Entering the terminal, the veterans were greeted by large crowds waving flags and cheering. Three buses and many wheelchairs were used to transport the veterans.

The weather was very hot and touring the national monuments involved a lot of walking in large crowds, but the group drew throngs of well-wishers everywhere.  

The tour included a visit to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the veterans witnessed the changing of the guard. All were impressed to meet and shake hands with former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, 91, a combat-wounded World War II veteran.   

A crowd of approximately 1,000 people, a color guard and a bagpiper were at the airport to greet the returning veterans on their late-afternoon return flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

This was the second and final Honor Flight for 2015.

For more information about Honor Flights visit www.honorflighttwincities.org. Tell us what's happening. Send news tips and stories about your community to bulletin@lillienews.com.

—Mary Schutta
Special to the Bulletin

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