To: Pam Mow, Gold Star Mother and Founder Greater Lafayette Honor Flight

22 September 2017

Greater Lafayette Honor Flight

ATTN: Pam Mow

P.O. Box 275

Lafayette, IN 47902-0275

Pam,

Feedback regarding the 18 September flight:  One of the best days of my life.

On the administrative, technical, and logistical levels, well done.  Everything visible worked.  Minor glitches must have occurred in the background but nothing detracted from the flight.

On the emotional level, WOW!

After years working in Washington, DC as a federal civilian employee for IRS and the Navy; as an Army Reservist assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency including as Chief, Afghanistan Cell in the Pentagon; after conducting four Hoosier Honor Flights; and after “touristy” trips with my wife and children – well, I thought I knew the national capitol.  But I’d never seen DC through the eyes of an Honor Flight veteran.  Most of the Vietnam veterans on the flight had never been to DC before. Their appreciation for what they experienced was overwhelming.  I could not help but be carried along.

But the memory I will treasure the most was exiting the plane upon our return and seeing and hearing those hundreds of people.  The half hour it took from the plane to the terminal was measured in more than time: it was more accurately measured in emotion. “Thank you for your service!  Thank you for your service!”  Each person shaking my hand.  Old people, middle aged people, young people, children. The children got to me the most, thanking me for a war that occurred over forty years before they were born.

Then I lost it.  The decades of pretending the lack of acknowledgement, the lack of gratitude, made no difference to me.  I was bigger than that.  I really thought I was.  But the tears came in spite of my best efforts to hang on to false pride.  And it felt good.  Closure.   Finally, closure.

Thank you, Pam.  Thanks to everyone who had anything to do with the flight.

John W. Tilford

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